Warbringer: "We’re not walking on eggshells, as far as the riffs we write. We don't go, 'It’s gotta be thrash!'"

Adam Carroll and Chase Becker of Warbringer
(Image credit: Immortal Affliction Photography)

Warbringer guitarists Chase Becker and Adam Carroll break out the full artillery on the California quintet’s latest album, Weapons of Tomorrow (Napalm Records). Take The Black Hand Reaches Out, a toxic waltz confidently unloading rounds of precision judding before each player rips into their respectively squealing solo.

These five-star generals of modern metal are clearly inspiring the other ranks, too. Less than 24 hours after the single premiered, a French YouTuber uploaded his own rapid-fire run-through of the tune. 

Warbringer’s members are awed by the dedication of this particular fan, fondly recalling what it was like to study the masters back when they were aspiring shredders... 

“The first solo I ever tried to learn was Metallica’s Escape,” says lead guitarist Becker. “I couldn’t pull it off , but I tried - I was just beginning at the time. You hear a part in a solo and you’re like, ‘How did they make it sound like that?’ After a while, you figure out the little tricks.”

For the record, Becker and Carroll have figured out their fretboards just fine. Weapons of Tomorrow - the second Warbringer album to feature the tandem attack of Becker and Carroll, and the act’s sixth overall - is loaded with the kinds of unrelenting thrash patterns and full-bodied sweeps that the band have built their brand on since forming in 2004. 

It’s also the outfit’s most ambitious effort yet, contrasting that traditional Warbringer heaviness with grimy black metal trilling and acoustic gloom. Upping the ante has also upped the track times, with the album featuring the longest cuts of the band’s career to date.

“That’s treacherous territory, to have an audience look at you for almost eight minutes, [especially] coming from a thrash background,” Caroll says with a laugh, though he notes new genre-blending epics like Heart of Darkness and Defiance of Fate hardly feel their length.

We can walk in with these ideas that might’ve been obscure to us 10 years ago and can [now] pull it off and sound like ourselves

Adam Carroll

No matter the style, the guitarists are putting on a clinic throughout Weapons of Tomorrow. Carroll can be speedy with his runs, but he also lives for the harsh EQ of a half-cranked wah on some low-string bends. 

Becker’s dexterous shredding, meanwhile, yields happy accidents like the warp-speed alien ring-out that punctuates his solo on Notre Dame (King of Fools).

“There’s nothing tweaked on that; he flicked this harmonic and buried it with the whammy bar,” Carroll explains, marveling at his partner’s performance. “It sounded so weird and gnarly, we were like, ‘Keep it!’”

While Weapons of Tomorrow still flexes Warbringer’s old-school thrash heritage, fleshing out their overall sound has armed the act with a new sense of accomplishment.

Warbringer are heading into the future freer, not to mention more dangerous, than ever. “We’re not walking on eggshells, as far as the riffs we write. In our heads, we don’t go, ‘It’s gotta be thrash!’ Whatever sounds good to us now, we’re willing to put out,” Carroll says. 

“We can walk in with these ideas that might’ve been obscure to us 10 years ago and can [now] pull it off and sound like ourselves.”

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Gregory Adams

Gregory Adams is a Vancouver-based arts reporter. From metal legends to emerging pop icons to the best of the basement circuit, he’s interviewed musicians across countless genres for nearly two decades, most recently with Guitar World, Bass Player, Revolver, and more – as well as through his independent newsletter, Gut Feeling. This all still blows his mind. He’s a guitar player, generally bouncing hardcore riffs off his ’52 Tele reissue and a dinged-up SG.