On the heels of a lackluster debut, Steve Tucker (ex Morbid Angel) led Warfather rectifies themselves with second full length The Grey Eminence. It seems that working in the studio with past bandmate Erik Rutan has made all the difference with this album, the overall sound has so much more depth to it. The drums sound absolutely mammoth and the riffs are pristine. The sophomore curse turns out to be a gift in the case of Warfather and while this album may appeal more to the technical death metal fans there is no denying how far this band has come in a short amount of time.
Unfortunately Orchestrating the Apocalypse (debut full length) is something Warfather will have to live with forever. No doubt the talent was there but for some reason it just didn’t come across, everything about it fell flat. In addition, the production was horrendous. When it was time to usher in the savage pain that death metal, when done right, can dish out it seemed like all of the band’s intentions packed it in and went home. It was extremely unfortunate for those who knew where Tucker came from and had high hopes. Good thing for second chances and this one is not only leaps and bounds better but boasts the kind of production we’ve come to expect from Rutan’s handiwork and the kind that this type of death metal deserves.
Going in, and to clear the elephant from the room, there’s little doubt that Morbid Angel fans will draw comparisons. Fair enough, but Tucker and Co. take great care not to be a ready made rip off of past glory. Truthfully the band has more in common with Unique Leader’s stable of technical death metal than anything and on “Headless Men Can No Longer Speak” the technical prowess apparent between Bryan Bever’s missile like drumming and Tucker’s riffs compliment each other extremely well and showcase the abilities of this band so much better than on their debut. “Heedless Servant” is another example of the band’s capabilities when it comes to galloping and relentless death metal. The rhythm and solo guitar work feed off each other extremely well but it’s the low end that anchors the track in the kind of muck and mire that Tucker and Rutan mastered on Gateways To Annihilation. The title track finds the band at their best. Between blast beats and winding, serpentine chord progressions — oh and of course the genre’s trademark pinch harmonics — there is zero doubt this band has successfully smashed any preconceptions one may have going in.
Here’s the rub, it’s nothing new for anyone familiar with Morbid Angel or Hate Eternal or Rutan’s production for that matter. It’s also not an album that will completely knock you off your feet. But where it truly succeeds is in how much fun it is to listen to and how much more cohesive it is. It boasts speaker punishing punch and loud, precise guitar work and last but not least, Tucker’s guttural vocals that have seemingly aged better than wine over the years.
On The Grey Eminence, Warfather offer up the kind of sophomore album that far surpasses their debut on every level. The playing, songwriting and production are all miles ahead of where the band was in 2014. Warfather have more than redeemed themselves with this second outing — hell, it may as well be a new band. Tucker may not ever be able to shake the Morbid Angel pigeonhole but he, with Warfather, sure do have fun with their take on death metal and it finally connects.