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Wartooth – Programmed Dichotomy

Programmed Dichotomy
by Kenn Staub at 10 June 2021, 9:30 AM

The Knappstein brothers, performing as the band WARTOOTH, aim to deliver ferociously crafted, melodically fierce thrash. Influenced by bands such as the Big 4, Overkill, Testament, and Exodus, the duo from the Land Down Under (Brisbane, Australia) seek to improve the mental health of their fellow metalheads through high-energy, face melting, socially conscious music that blends the old with the more progressive. “Programmed Dichotomy” (released April 9, 2020), WARTOOTH’s first offering, is conceptually based; exploring the conflict of the often divisive duality instilled early in life that they believe is currently dividing and poisoning the world’s people. The message is purposeful and relayed in the no uncertain terms of thrash.

Listening to “Programmed Dichotomy” several things stood out, perhaps none more than Ando Knappstein’s vocal performance. He shouts in an abrupt, demanding manner; he growls from the gut; he takes forays into the upper ends with high pitched yelps, screams, and howls; and joins with his brother on pleasant harmonies (often all in a single song). Ando is no slouch on guitar either. When soloing he more often than not strikes just the right blend of speed with melody, playing fast but rarely at the expense of what is being played. Wally Knappstein’s drumming is the driving force of each song, propelling all tracks ever forward at a breakneck pace. I can only imagine the blur his arms and legs must be at the kit. And though uncredited, whoever is playing bass deserves kudos, particularly for his/her contributions on “Benevolent Destroyer,” “Sabotage,” “Venomhead,” and “As Darkness Comes.”

Programmed Dichotomy’s” opener, “Wired To Die” explodes right out of the speaker and never lets up, a steady rhythm holding underneath WARTOOTH’s rapid-fire delivery. “Scourge,” initially played in bursts, settles into continued outright thrash aggression. Though “Benevolent Destroyer” is true to thrash, it intermittently has the ominous tonality expected of more traditional metal. “Predator” evidences a killer groove amongst the rapid pace. WARTOOTH demonstrates stylistic diversity on “Kingdom of Fear.” Not a total speed assault, a groove is given time to develop and then played longer than on most songs. “Sabotage” leads with an almost AC/DC-like riff, but transforms into a full-blown, thundering thrash number. “Venomhead” is very tight, a melody playing amidst the driving line.

The penultimate track on “Programmed Dichotomy” is a remake of SKID ROW’s “Slave To The Grind.” Make no mistake; this is a remake, not a cover. WARTOOTH have retooled the song, making it thrash and, in the process, making it theirs. After the ebullience of “Slave To The Grind,” WARTOOTH close the album on a somber note with the rather grim “As Darkness Comes.” “Programmed Dichotomy” is almost 50 minutes of pure thrash, albeit a tad repetitious and discordant at times. There are some fine riffs and grooves scattered throughout; it would have been nice if these elements were allowed to develop a bit more. That said, if you are looking for speed, aggression, and power, with a certain degree of rawness thrown into the mix, “Programmed Dichotomy” is well worth a listen.

Musicianship: 8
Songwriting: 8
Memorability: 7
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

1. Wired To Die
2. Scourge
3. Benevolent Destroyer
4. Predator
5. Kingdom Of Fear
6. Sabotage
7. Venomhead
8. Slave To The Grind
9. As Darkness Comes
Ando Knappstein – Guitars, Vocals
Wally Knappstein – Drums, Backing Vocals
Record Label: Independent


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Edited 07 December 2021

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