The unseasonably humid air was thick with fog and mystique that wafted into the underground lair of Cattivo as two bands who have dueled before in Pittsburgh chose to engage each other once again, on a Monday night no less.
Having seen them on two other occasions (but not with Enforcer), it took me a some time to appreciate and acquire a taste for what Warbringer is doing, their latest opus Woe To The Vanquished landing on my year-end albums list for 2017. What was once slightly rudimentary and derivative has become a force Warbringer can call their own. Songs such as “Combat Shock,” “Living Weapon,” and new track “Firepower Kills” rocketed past our heads as we ducked for cover to avoid shrapnel and debris, vocalist and founding member John Kevill commanding hellbound troops with Ian Gillan’s confidence (there’s an uncanny resemblance) and Mille Petrozza’s panicked screams, his backing band double-barreling like Kreator on a collision course with Exodus, mid-paced breaks recalling speed metal progenitors Raven.
Enforcer, on the other hand, despite hailing from the death and doom metal domain of frosty Sweden, transported us to the big American arenas of the 80’s or at least The Rainbow in London. They too recalled Raven as well as Iron Maiden, Angel Witch, and any number of English metal bands that ever achieved or came close to superstardom. High-pitched vocals from blonde beast of a team captain Olof Wikstrand and harmonized Tipton/Downing leads neutralized the moshing and replaced it with headbanging and sky-punching as scorching tunes like “Destroyer,” the crowd-requested “Katana,” and calling card “Midnight Vice,” thrilled young earthdogs and old hellrats alike. Their stage presence prodigious, these leather vindicators threw their fair share of shapes, emulating their heroes no doubt, yet doing so with remarkable chops to back up those synchronized maneuvers. Molten Flying V solos invoked Dennis Stratton and Dave Murray as anthemic choruses ruled the hour. The British metal titans have new sons to be proud of…and hopefully tour with? I’m gazing at you, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, etc.
Each band headlining separate shows alone would have sufficiently fried circuits, but with a pair of blood-hungry acts such as Warbringer and Enforcer making for a twosome of a main event for one blistering gig, we were given more than we deserved. You’d never have a Warbringer without the music that influenced Enforcer, which is something that I think provided a healthy, competitive tension between these battlers. Each act has seemingly ignited their own reverent movement fueled by the desire to prove points and uphold legacies, and prove it to us and uphold the classic eras they did. If it were a match, Warbringer vs. Enforcer II would have ended in a time-limit draw. And we all won.
Now we need a trilogy.
On the local openers front, I unfortunately arrived too late to catch We, The Unwilling
(Whom I also bought my ticket from. Sorry, guys…) but did arrive in time to witness another Enfilade set, and what a Rings of Saturn-Gruesome clash-up it was, beatdowns and blastbeats knocking loose complacent teeth with the occasional Carcass-worthy riff shanking the witless in their ribs.
And with a thousand-yard stare burning holes in the walls around me, I headed home, wading through the early-morning mists as if it were gunpowder smoke, knowing full well that this isn’t over. There shall be another conflict, and we shall be on the front lines for it. When War is Hell, Thrash is King.