Released By: Napalm Records
Release Date: November 16th, 2018
Genre: Heavy/Power Metal
The Tribune – Vocals
The Crusader – Guitars
The Viking – Bass
The Spartan – Drums
1. Give ’em War
2. Never Surrender
5. Holy Storm
6. Battle Cry
7. Fire Falling Down
9. The Last Battle
Every once in a while a promising band will suddenly appear from out of nowhere and manage to gain a following almost immediately, before even releasing their first album. In the case of heavy/power metal band Warkings, there’s an obvious reason for this: They’re a group of legendary heroes from the past, who have been chosen by Odin and sent back to Earth to show modern humanity how true metal is supposed to be played! Okay, so obviously that isn’t really true, but suffice to say, the band is clearly having fun with their gimmick, featuring a lineup that consists of a Roman Tribune, a Crusader, a Viking, and a Spartan, with no further identities given. Jokes aside, when I first heard lead single “Gladiator”, I was instantly impressed and knew I had to hear the full-length album immediately. Well, their official debut, Reborn, is nowhere, and while there’s nothing overly new or innovative here, it’s definitely a fun album, filled with hard-hitting modern power metal, with some slight influences of classic heavy metal.
Despite being from ancient times, these heroes have clearly spent time studying many different modern metal bands, in order to get the right sound figured out, so they can execute their master plan. There are some very obvious influences, with the guitar leads in particular reminding me of Mystic Prophecy guitarist Markus Pohl a lot of the time, especially on tracks like “Never Surrender”, “Gladiator” and “Hephaistos”, with the latter in particular having a dark, punishing sound that feels eerily similar to the title track of Ravenlord throughout its duration. Otherwise, this is a fun, straight-forward, no-nonsense kind of album, with some very heavy guitar work throughout, which give way to some very melodic vocal passages and huge, very catchy choruses. With only 9 tracks and clocking in at around 36 minutes, Reborn is a very compact, fast-moving release, with no filler and no tracks that drag, but at the same time, it does feel perhaps slightly rushed, like it could have been something thrown together quickly, so the band could get an album out. I’m not sure if that’s the case, or not, but it’s definitely a very small release for a debut, and it does leave me wanting more, which I guess can only be a good thing. Ignoring the length of the release and the concept behind the band, this is a consistently engaging album, with a nice mix between fast and mid pace tracks, all of which are hard-hitting fun, so there’s no ballads, nothing clocking over 5 minutes, or nothing really experimental: It’s just good old hard hitting thrash infused heavy/power metal, with a very polished, clean and very modern sound.
Another area where the band has clearly studied modern metal bands is in the vocals, with lead vocalist The Tribune managing to perfectly duplicate one of my personal favorite singers, in such a way that he not only nails everything perfectly, he manages to sound like a 100% accurate clone. Let’s just say, as a longtime fan of Serenity, I’d recognize Georg Nuehauser’s voice anywhere, and our Roman friend here has managed to perfectly impersonate his voice, with the same wonderfully warm tone, the exact same way of pronouncing words, the same super smooth delivery, the same epic soaring power metal vocals and everything else. The biggest difference between the two is The Tribune clearly has far more battle experience than Georg, and he uses that experience to put just a bit more firepower and intensity into his vocals, to match the harder hitting riffs on this release. All in all, it makes for an excellent vocal performance, which helps enhance some already very good songs.
Which brings us to the songwriting, an area where I think the band could potentially improve with future releases, but they’ve done a pretty good job on their debut. The album gets off to a suitably thrilling start, with opener “Give ’em War” being a very speedy, aggressive track led by some fairly thrashy riffs. It speeds through its fun verses and then opens up with a somewhat dumb, but very catchy and entertaining chorus, which is sure to get stuck in many listener’s heads in a hurry. The instrumental section s also quite fun and has some excellent soloing. Next is the even more intense “Never Surrender”, which against starts off with some intense thrash riffs, before slowing the pace down a bit during its verses, and then speeds up and becomes a much more melodic power metal track during the choruses, where The Tribune’s vocals are especially warm, yet epic, and he does a terrific job, as always. I already mentioned it earlier, but “Hephaistos” really does feel close to a carbon copy of “Ravenlord” by Mystic Prophecy, with everything from the guitar done, to the dark overall feel, to the pacing of the verses and even the chorus itself, all feeling shockingly similar. It’s a fun track, being the first slower track of the bunch, while still being a heavy hitter, and the faster-paced solo section is awesome, but overall the track feels a bit uninspired and lazy, so it ends up being one of my least favorites on the album.
Things pick up again with lead single “Gladiator”, which again has that familiar guitar tone during the intro, and the thrashy riffs early on feel a bit similar, but once the track gets going it opens up a bit, becoming more an epic, melodic power metal track, with very fun verses and an extremely catchy chorus, which might just make you accidentally sing “Go, Go Power Rangers” by mistake, because apparently our heroes must have watched a lot of that series from up above and got the theme song stuck in their head while writing this song. Jokes aside, though, it’s a really fun track, and easily one of the best here, so they made the right choice in making it the first single. The two weakest songs of the album are next, though they’re still pretty solid. First is “Holy Storm”, a more mid-paced track, which has some extra flavor to its riffs. It has a solid chorus and a great solo and is generally a solid track, but for some reason, it just doesn’t quite resonate with me the way most of the other songs do. The same goes for “Battle Cry”, another mostly mid-paced track, with some epic chanting throughout. The chants and the chorus help give it up some extra energy, but I find the main riff not as strong as normal, and the verses are a bit boring. It’s another case of a solid track that just doesn’t quite blow me away.
Moving into the final stretch, the album shifts into high gear, first with one of the hardest hitting tracks in “Fire Falling Down”, another fast and furious track, which strikes a perfect balance between crushing thrash riffs and some great melodic leads, while having a heavy and intense, but also super catchy chorus, with some very intense vocals. The biggest surprise of the album comes during “Sparta”, another mid-paced track which has some slight influences of modern melo death, mostly because of some special guests vocals from none other than Mr. Debauchery himself. Yep, the band somehow managed to hire the vocalist of death ‘n’ roll band Debauchery to provide some epic growls, mostly during the verses as well as the end of the chorus, and while this kind of thing can be hit and miss for me in power metal, they pulled it off very nicely here, as the verses are suitably hard-hitting, while the chorus is very melodic and gives room for the lead vocals to shine, with epic chants of “Sparta!” coming at the end, and so everything works together perfectly. Perhaps the most epic track of all is the closer “The Last Battle”, which has an extremely catchy rally cry of a chorus, where The Tribune really gets to shine, once again. The verses have more of the same heavy, slightly thrashy guitar work, and the track moves at a fast pace overall, with that chorus being especially amazing, while the extended guitar solo is also quite excellent. These last two tracks are right up there with the first two as my four favorites on the album, with this track in particular feeling like a great way to end the album.
For a first attempt at making metal from a band whose members one would expect to be largely out of date with modern trends, I’d say Reborn is an excellent debut, filled with hard-hitting, somewhat thrash infused power metal, as well as traces of slower paced, but equally hard-hitting heavy metal. Warkings have definitely made a strong first impression here, so hopefully, Odin allows them to stay on Earth for at least a few more years, so they can produce some more great music. I think there’s some clear room for improvement on potential future releases, but for now, this is an album I can easily recommend for fans of the genre, as well anyone looking for a fun metal album, with a nice balance between heavy riffs and strong choruses.
Written by: Travis Green