There was no doubt that Santiago, Chile thrashers Warchest were guided by the hand of classic thrash metal from thier birth in 2010 but, stylistically speaking their debut ‘Aftershock’ (2011) sounded somewhat green with its heavy use of barely formed melodic thrash style and bland mosh metal cliches. That debut surely intended to be accessible but the ambition hadn’t yet matched the skill on hand with their Criminal inspired post-thrash style and vocals that seriously stank of mid-90’s Bay Area groove whenever the pace slowed. Raimundo Correa joined the band around 2012 after leaving Nuclear and, though he’d not play on ‘Downfall’ (2015), it felt like a lot of his previous experience with Nuclear had rubbed off on the band. At that point it would have been acceptable to write off Warchest as a modern, riffless and somewhat generic thrash group. I wouldn’t be so quick to throw in the towel, though, as it seems around 2016 the rhythm section from thrashers Oponente and the shifting of bassist José Tomás García to the second guitar slot coincided with a much heavier, extreme thrash metal sound that’d eventually verge on a distinctly modern take on late 80’s death/thrash metal. ‘Sentenced From Conception’ is the product of that shift towards extremity that finds Warchest‘s third album crushing away the past with a riff-heavy, ultra-violent thrash record that voids past melodicism in favor of memorable high-speed thrashers and pit-churning Power Trip-esque mosh metal.
‘Sentenced From Conception’ makes a fantastic first impression with a short introductory instrumental that rockets into the ‘Oppressing the Masses’ styled title track, a late 80’s ripper that is sure to grab Vio-lence and Invocator (‘Excursion Demise’ era) fans by the throat with its hyper-sped riff style and wailing solos. That thread of almost-death/thrash continues throughout the record filling the void between early Death (see: “Voice of Insanity”) and thrashers like Epidemic and Devastation who went hard in the late 80’s without going pure death metal. Warchest are still an accessible band in terms of song structure and none of these songs simply fly by without some kind of hook or melodic moment but, I found they kept it all blasting at an admirably brutal pace. It is a riff album in an era where I’m typically unsure if modern thrashers still know how to riff without ripping off their idols.
The guitar duo of Christian Pelaez and José García ends up being the major revelation of ‘Sentenced From Conception’ both from a riffcraft angle and in terms of technical ability. Solos are fluid and energetic, not so obsessed with notes as much as they are feeling and style. Riffs are intricate and occasionally referential, such as the early 90’s prog-death breaks in “A Reign to Decay”, but always focus on a clever or conclusive musical statement; In this sense I felt ‘Oppressing the Masses’, as a light comparison, is most appropriate in terms of matured songwriting and general variety but I’d also alluded to standout elements of both Death and Power Trip that are vital to the experience. There is much more of a dynamic thrash metal record here than I’ve suggested (see: “Self Executed Holocaust”, “Repulsive Existence”) so, I don’t want to overstate the force of a record that generally speaks for itself through intensity and performance. Without gushing too much more, this third Warchest album shreds from start to finish.
Lasting value is the final, most important test for any modern thrash record and beyond the spectacle of high speed technical ability and references to late 80’s death metal it is the sharp songwriting that kept me convinced that Warchest aren’t just a throwaway group this time around. At the very least they’ve created something that’ll convince the ‘old school’ thrash addicts like me to keep listening beyond that initial wave of hype that comes with a brutal and energetic thrash record and I felt that puts ‘Sentenced From Conception’ a step above many fine-but-forgettable thrash fare that comes from every corner of the globe. Highly recommended. For preview my personal favorite moments came on the title track, “Self Executed Holocaust” and the eight minute closer “Repulsive Existence” and each features some of the finer lead work on the record; Of the available previews online I think “The Haunted Chapel” gives the best idea of what to expect from the full listen.
Ancient spiritual possession. 4.0/5.0
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