(By Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker, Lead Journalist/Writer, RiffRelevant.com)
It is deemed such, i.e. bittersweet, because of the recent negative health diagnosis of vocalist Bruce Corbitt (also of Rigor Mortis fame) having esophageal cancer. The news was recently shared that he was being forced to retire from singing and ultimately, this would be the final Warbeast album for the foreseeable future.
With that said, let’s focus on the positive now, okay? Because, make no mistake about it, “Enter The Arena” is positively an ass-kicker! The album capitalizes on the undeniable strengths that Warbeast have exuded on their previous releases, 2013’s ‘Destroy’ and ‘War Of The Gargantuas’, and 2010’s ‘Krush The Enemy’.
Those strengths are the mightily muscular and always razor-sharp guitars that make every Warbeast cut lethal. Then there’s Corbitt’s own brawny, matter-of-fact vocals that are always on point to where they’re delivered with laser-guided precision.
Those guitars are courtesy of the twin axe attack of six-string slingers Scott Shelby and Drew Shoup who, along with drummer Joey Gonzalez and bassist Lyric Ferchaud, are the beasts behind verbal warmonger Bruce. Together, this quintet unleash some of the most intense metal to originate from north of the U.S.’ southern border bar none.
With the blistering assault of these ten tracks, “Enter The Arena” is as much of a challenge or dare as it is a working title. In truth, the bar is set exceptionally high right from the start of the record, as “Centuries Of Poisoned Soil” delivers a chunky, but thoroughly thrashing, headbanger.
It churns along rather nicely, occasionally careening off the rails with some fiery guitar antics and thundering drums. Being the longest song of the outing at almost seven minutes playing time, things allow for some hypnotic riffery while establishing the seriousness of what Warbeast are here to do.
That would be THRASH, by the way, and thrash they do on head-dizzying cuts like “Punishment For Gluttony” and the anthemic “Orchestration Of Violence“. The latter is a full-on mosh pit primer, one that easily invokes imagined images of bodies whirling, twirling and taking to the air in some sweaty flesh-fueled inferno of slam. With each new sonic salvo fired, Warbeast routinely up the ante track after track.
Some of the effort’s most outstanding moments come within the confines of such songs as the friction-infusing, downright furious “Hitchhiker“, “The Scalping” and “Ancient Hate“.
For me and my own personal tastes, the one-two beat down of the back-to-back “Chemicals Consuming” and title track, “Enter The Arena“, are as close to untouchable as one can get. Each is laden with incendiary guitar pyrotechnics, earth-rattling rhythms and of course, Bruce’s uniquely aggro vocals.
As if all of this has not been enough to motivate your ass to engage this opus, there is still THE aural highlight of the record, the unchallenged “Conjuration With The Devil“. This next-to-last selection is the very embodiment of what Warbeast has meant to me in the years since the band first surfaced.
Locomotive-like riffs charge ahead, rhythmic bass rumbles and piston-powered drums pound out their advance. Next thing you know your head is banging, perhaps you’re even throwing horns, whatever, as the addictive music now holds you firmly locked in. All of this, while Corbitt narrates the tune’s tale with an impeccable vocal delivery and when the time comes for the bridge and solo… oh my! It just has to be experienced firsthand.
Ultimately, that is the very key to “Enter The Arena“, a love for heavy metal with nothing else required. It acts like some signal or secret handshake, an unspoken higher knowledge, an enlightenment not shared by all. No, to enter this arena takes courage and fortitude, as this record has the power to weed out the untrue.
Yes, you can bet all that you own that should you be a poser, this album will find you out and find you out fast. This is heavy metal, my friends, and we owe a great debt of gratitude to Warbeast and at this time especially, Bruce Corbitt, for being able to provide us such a phenomenal thrasher.
With that said and in closing, we should all designate our positivity and well wishes to Bruce and his Family. I have a feeling we have not heard the last of him, no matter who says or proclaims what, it matters not. All Hail! Enter The Arena! Long Live WARBEAST!!!