Ahh, Metalcore. That much maligned subgenre of metal that some naysayers would have you believe was dead and gone. But here come Wage War from Florida to press the reset button with their sophomore album Deadweight (Fearless) and show you Metalcore is far from over.
The band’s debut album Blueprints (also Fearless) was a very apt title it set out the stall for what was to come as a solid, though not great album, put them on the map. On the surface Deadweight may seem to show that not much has changed or progressed in terms of song writing or style for Wage War, but on closer inspection this, at once a tightly wound thunderbolt of riffs and breakdowns is also a soaring emotional piece that brings a dose of melody to the chaos. There is a real sense of groove and bounce throughout the entire album with nods to both Korn and Hatebreed.
Lead-off single ‘Stitch’ commences with a very Nineties nu-Metal staccato intro and it’s this song which perhaps showcases best the change in focus for Wage War on this album; it all builds to an almost abrupt end before pulverising you with a crushing breakdown akin to Deathcore stalwarts The Acacia Strain, yes Wage War get real heavy at points on Deadweight. I think above all others this song will serve as a barometer for people and whether they get on board with the album or not – a bold move for the band to choose this as the first release but shows the confidence they have and this self assurance comes through.
Other tracks that stand out include the furious pace of ‘Disdain’, bristling with aggression and intensity with frontman Briton Bond sounding like a an unholy hybrid of early Slipknot’s Corey Taylor and Jamey Jasta. This guy will be a real force in the live arena. Not to be outdone is guitarist Cody Quistad who on songs like the title track unleashes searing chorus after searing chorus. But these are not just throw away “emo” moments., instead a hugely catchy and memorable, a perfect juxtapose to Bond’s heavier output.
Also worthy of note is the quite brilliant production of Jeremy McKinnon of A Day to Remember and Jeremy Wade, these guys are so in tune with the band they have created an album which is as unforgiving as it is raw and emotional. The guitars are concrete thick never let up and the drums are perfectly set as the backdrop to destroy your ears during the breakdowns.
This is a real step up from the debut record, and Wage War have done what all good bands should do, and that is to expand on a tried and true formula and offer a more mature and nuanced approach to their song writing.