Warbringer – Vanquish Once Again

Thursday, 23rd March 2017

Dead Rhetoric: You mention in a recent social media update your excitement touring with Havok and Exmortus both in North America and abroad – that the new generation of metal has just come of age all at once. Could you expand on these thoughts, do you feel like having to prove your value or worth is no longer up for debate due to your quality of records and live performances?

Kevill: I think it shouldn’t, and I wish journalistic outlets would get rid of terms of retro-thrash and re-thrash, because it’s stupid. It is also asking for metal to be like a dead genre. This is real heavy metal. I want to make metal that is pure, 150% metal to the bone but is still dynamic, original, and well-written. We are not the only band with this vision- I think Vektor has this vision, I think Havok has the vision, I think Exmortus has this vision, I think the new Power Trip album is a fusion of a different crossover that hasn’t really been done. I really think that if you want to look at the best thrash that is coming out now, especially over the last year, it’s not the new Overkill, Testament, Slayer or Metallica. It’s the new Havok, Warbringer, and Vektor, etc. The new bands are finally on an objective level outstripping it- and by the way doing it on even less of a budget than the bigger bands. New bands are starting to make records that aren’t just good, but are truly great.

I think that’s the thing that’s turned and changed- I look at Woe to the Vanquished as our first truly great record. I think Havok raised the bar with their new record- the new bands have musicians in them that are every bit as good as the guys you would pay $200 to see them play. If our band had Lars Ulrich in it, nobody would think that we were a good live band. He couldn’t play our songs, straight up- neither could he play Havok’s songs, straight up. Why? Because every 16-year-old now learns how to do the double kick part from “One” in their bedroom before they are even in a band. And unlike Lars, they can nail it. I think some of these old guys need to go- they need to say we made our good records and we are old and rich now, we don’t have the fire anymore. There needs to be greater support for the new bands who are sleeping on floors, grinding it out playing 200 plus shows a year, headbanging away every night.

Dead Rhetoric: You are back in college as a history major – if you had the opportunity to go back and participate in significant historical events in the flesh anywhere in the world, where would you go and what would you hope to learn more about?

Kevill: I never have been anywhere in Russia, and I’m really interested in Russian history. One thing a lot of Americans don’t know, the Hollywood perception of World War II is there’s these Nazi boogiemen- and we don’t know where they really came from, but they are bad alright. No explanation of the complicated causes of 1871-1935, none of that background at all. America flies in with the Superman cape and saves the world, and that’s the story that we get. I want to teach that that’s not the way things really happened, and I want people to know how evil becomes real. I believe that there is a Third Reich of the Soviet Union that was represented at the same time, of the most evil government. When it comes to the Second World War, Mordor is practically real. But it was regular humans who took that form. There is a whole story that you need to understand for this to make any sense. I want to teach that to people, because before you had Hilter and evil men in charge, you needed a calamity, and the people that created that calamity weren’t necessarily evil, they were incompetent.

You want to see what it’s like to have an unstable leader who says wacky shit and see what that does for national relations, check out Kaiser Wilhelm II in the 1908 Daily Telegraph affair, it’s the same deal. This guy was a wacko who had no place being in power, and he was dumb. He said things that worsened British-German relations. Could the first World War have been avoided? Absolutely. And if the first World War didn’t happen, there would be no second World War, and there would be no holocaust. There would be no communist Russia and China, none of that. Because leaders, not even evil but didn’t understand what they were doing, made the decisions that they made that not just doomed their own generation, but another couple of generations. When we have an irresponsible leader now, we should really be looking at this time period and be very scared. The thing is as well, and I talk about this in the song “Silhouettes” is, the stakes are higher now. Technology is way scarier.

Dead Rhetoric: How important do you place friendships and band chemistry to the development of Warbringer from this point forward?

Kevill: Very high. I really want to keep this lineup and I’m so happy with this record. I like everyone as a musician and as a person- there’s a better attitude in Warbringer than there has ever been- there’s a bigger sense of pride in what we do. We are doing what needs to be done in heavy metal- not us alone, but we are one of the (bands). If we put out work like this, we have the confidence to believe that people will notice what we are doing and eventually there will be a personal reward for us for putting all the work in. We are not doing this for personal rewards, I’ve put in over a decade of my life to this so I would feel so proud and vindicated to be able to say I can make a living playing the music that I made and that I love.

Dead Rhetoric: What ultimate achievements are left personally and professionally to attain?

Kevill: Personally, I’m really happy with this record. If Warbringer never made another record again, this record to me is good enough and one I always wanted to make and had never been able to exactly make before. Before I could not be satisfied with my physical output so far, I always felt we never made the perfect record. At least for us, this is the perfect Warbringer record. That’s my real personal accomplishment. I intended to make another Warbringer record, but it may take a little more time to make something that can follow this up. I don’t want to make something to follow up that would be weaker, I think that’s pointless. And if that’s what I’m doing, I should end my career- and I would urge everyone else who’s been doing that for 20 years to do so. Man, I’m a dick (laughs). I think this needs to be said in metal- I don’t believe in the idea of the god- no human is a god. That’s why I am partially in metal because I’m an atheist- people are people, music is the God. If your music doesn’t have that action and fire that elevates things to divinity, step aside and leave your own legacy. Let your great records speak for themselves- if they truly are great, they won’t go anywhere.

For me personally, I want to continue working on my degree, and teach a class on European history from the time of the French Revolution through World War II, and have people really understand that because that’s really the key to the modern world that we live in today. It would make the kids understand so many things that are going on now, the context to understand them. I want to teach people, and just how in music it’s got that emotional component to it where the songs that discuss history are less about names, things, and places, but about a feeling. I don’t want the lyrics to be too on the nose- I want them to have that sense of storytelling and that emotion that comes from it. When I become a professor, I want people to get that emotion as well- the power of these stories so it sticks with them and changes them, not just giving an answer on a test and move along. If people don’t know their own history, they might think something (stupid), like what we call socialism has no place in America. But people forget about Teddy Roosevelt and the Progressive Movement, you just can’t argue about that. Things that have no validity are said at the highest level – even at the White House. The knowledge to correct things is not widespread enough.

Dead Rhetoric: Being a deep thrash follower, what five albums do you consider the most underrated that fans need to discover, beyond the Big Four of the Bay Area and Germany?

Kevill: Let’s see. It depends how deep into thrash you get. I don’t just like anything that has the title thrash metal in it- I’m very selective. Increasingly so as I progress in my career, because I have a higher and higher standard within my own work. My listening habits have been weird in the last couple of years, and I’m more focused on doing than what other musicians are doing. I’ve listened to thrash my whole life. Some albums… Sacrifice – Soldiers of Misfortune is really underrated. A very cool blend between the brutality and progressive elements, catchy songwriting. There’s some cool weird rhythms used on it, particularly the last song- and I love the high-pitched screams that Rob does. That is a direct inspiration for my own high screams. Everyone who knows Warbringer knows I will always wave the flag for this one- Demolition Hammer – Epidemic of Violence. They are back and seem to be performing their old material with the same ferocity, so I can give them my endorsement in their current form as well. That album is the most brutal shit ever, pretty much. In my opinion there isn’t even a death metal record I’ve heard that is that consistent and played that relentlessly. It’s been an inspiration for us – we are often considered in that vein ourselves.

I really like Morbid Saint – Spectrum of Death as well. Largely because of the super evil, higher reverb, rapid fire vocals. I love those vocals. What else, Artillery – By Inheritance. That’s a record – among those who know it, I’d say it’s not that underrated- but it’s got a storm of riffs and they use all these Middle Eastern scales all over the place that are distinctive and give it a cool flavor. One more… Dark Angel – Leave Scars. Those riffs in “No One Answers” are really crushing. My only complaint about that album is the hyper speed of the songs, they make them a little longer than they need to be- but the actual parts, the riffs, the vocals are all so killer. I love the rapid-fire brutality that that band brings. I could have said Darkness Descends but that is not an underrated record by the band- people know about that.

Dead Rhetoric: What’s the game plan for promotional activities following these North American and European tour dates for the spring? Will there be another music video, or possibly filming another show or two for a future DVD / documentary?

Kevill: I’m not sure what those plans are, we are still working on the present. There is a possibility of doing a video for “When the Guns Fell Silent”- to visit at a battle field and take some black and white footage with soldiers marching over the field. I don’t know if it’s within our means to actually make a video for an eleven-minute song, that costs money. If the record does well and the tours do well, and there’s a strong reaction, the more of that that happens, the more of Warbringer there will be. We are planning to tour until pretty much the end of the year, unless we are doing amazingly well and getting arena offers. I am going to go back to school for six months to a year and we are going to start slowly working on the follow-up to this.

Warbringer official website

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