There’s a sleek '80s Japanese sci-fi/horror vibe that creeps through grief of WAR’s Worship. The band, formed in a lab somewhere in Tokyo in 2002, works hard to hammer out a throwback thrash metal style. While I’m not entirely sure about their more immediate thrash pedigree or whether classic fans of the genre will key in to what grief of WAR is doing, there’s plenty to like about Worship.
Prosthetic Records, tasked with crating up these Japanese monsters and hauling them over to the West, issued the band’s 2005 Japanese release A Mounting Crisis…As Their Fury Got Released to American stores in 2008. After inking an international record deal, grief of WAR got to putting together the steel and wire fragments that would comprise Worship.
At 44 minutes, Worship is an adrenaline-packed set of loud, noisy, energizing tunes.
For better or for worse, grief of WAR plays with many of the melodic tricks from 80s thrash. The speed isn’t always packed in as much as traditionalists might like, but there’s still a sense of urgency to Ken Sato’s precise riffs and Hiroyuki Inoue’s skilled rhythm guitar. Vocalist and bassist Manabu Hirose shouts, spits and snarls incomprehensible lyrics, but that’s really half the fun. Drummer Masatomo Otani is capable but seems to lack a spirit of adventure on the kit.
In terms of breaking new ground, grief of WAR just doesn’t seem to have much interest in it. They unpack meandering thrash jams on tracks like “Into the Void,” using Korn’s Shane Gibson to pull out a fast and fuming solo that may surprise some listeners.
Harsh drums cut through the skin of “Captured Soul Eternity,” giving Otani a rare chance to show something different. A tempo change gives the band some time to flesh out a more spacious arrangement. Accented by Sato’s beautiful solo, it’s one of the best tracks on the record.
“Midnight Sun” lumbers into range like a drunken Godzilla, trampling buildings and eating people with glee. The cut takes its time in working up to a solid groove and takes full advantage of the climax with another deafening Sato display.
While thrash traditionalists may not be bowing for prayer at the altar to Worship this one, grief of WAR has still turned out a solid and heavy record jam-packed with plenty of pleasing moments. It’s aggressive, melodic, strange, and off-beat, paying homage to the masters of 80s thrash while still maintaining a unique Japanese vibe all its own.