The Psychology of Thrash
Warbringer bang heads and take no prisoners
By Jason Schreurs
Let’s face it, thrash metal isn’t for everyone. And John Kevill, vocalist for California thrash maniacs Warbringer, is quick to agree.
“The average Joe isn’t into blazing thrash metal or anything,” explains Kevill. “The whole idea behind thrash is it’s supposed to be a riff-driven rollercoaster ride. And most thrash is all about war, death, violence, and evil. But if you’re watching Predator you don’t want to see a love scene with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Fuck no; you want to see him kicking as much ass as possible, all the time. And that’s what thrash does in music form.”
The Ventura, CA five-piece has effortlessly scaled the heap of bands leading a thrash metal resurgence. Although these guys are still young (Kevill is 21), they face the same stereotypes that thrash forefathers like Metallica, Slayer, and Testament battled in their early years. That thrash is just a phase; that it’s mindless noise played by talentless rejects.
“I think that’s bullshit, because thrash is like metal’s equivalent of the blues,” argues Kevill. “There’s a specific set of parameters to still be a full-on thrash band. But within that mold there’s endless variations, and the art is getting the tempo changes just right, getting the right riffs to go off each other in the right way… at the very least, thrash musicians have to be able to play at consistently high tempos, and it’s not something that just anybody can do.”
The key, according to Kevill, is to look past the extreme imagery (the band’s debut album title, War without End, says it all) and see thrash for what it is—the musical equivalent of a well-crafted action movie put to tape.
“And if you say, ‘Oh, this is just kid’s stuff.’ No, a lot of it is carefully arranged and thought out from a musical standpoint,” he says.
In fact, thrash metal is so respected in indie rock and hardcore/punk circles that a disturbing trend of “ironic metal” bands has littered the metal arena the past few years, causing severe annoyance to diehards like Kevill.
“A lot of times I’ll hear some indie rock kid say, ‘Oh yeah, that’s cool, that’s cool. Ha ha.’ And a lot of these guys probably couldn’t play one song off any Kreator album. Not even close. And let alone a whole set of it. It’s like, ‘You think it’s easy. Okay, now do it tight. And keep it double-timed because doing it half-timed is for wimps!’”
For more info, go to: myspace.com/warbringer