Wage War


Written by: MAK on 28/12/2016 12:43:49

The handy thing about a re-release is that if you miss out on it the first time around, you do have a second chance to discover it, as if it were new. Take Ocala, FL-based metalcore outfit Wage War’s debut album, “Blueprints”, for example: it was released by the Californian label, Fearless Records, at the end of 2015, and at that point, it completely avoided my radar. Ten months later, the United Kingdom-based label, Spinefarm Records, got their hands on it in order to expose the album further for the masses.

What Wage War deliver is a brand of metalcore that blends technicality with the sheer brutality of deathcore, and the intensity of heavy metal. The Floridian band is 90 percent ruthless aggression, with ten percent remaining to showcase a melodic stance. Influences come from all directions, the clearest would being the co-production by A Day to Remember’s Jeremy McKinnon and Andrew Wade — just listening to Briton Bonds roaring takes me back to when I first heard McKinnon’s vicious shouts. “Basic Hate”, meanwhile, could be a leftover ADTR song without the pop-punk vibes for all I know. It has that good cop/bad cop-style, brutal verse and clean vocal dynamic, where singing melodies come off as though it were McKinnon singing them himself.

It’s not just a copycat style, though; “Alive” makes sure of that with its intense heavy metal tone for the most part. And this time, Bonds shows us his best Corey Taylor impression with a barrage of speedy, shouting vocals. It’s like he listened to “AOV” by Slipknot and thought, “I can shout like that too”. What also stands out on this release is the Architects-like, fiddly guitar work lingering beyond the breakdowns, and also the crushing riffage. These are on display especially on the title track, “Blue Prints”, which unleashes the passionate angst through anthemic singing-screams layered on top of emotional melodies and some phenomenal fretwork.

You can take this album apart segments at a time and pick out the various bands that Wage War sound like, but what’s brilliant is how the Ocala-born group has combined a variety of styles and heavy sub-genres and made it work, unleashing a fresh sound in metalcore. At no point on “Blueprints” did any of it overstay its welcome, as the twists and turns kept my focus throughout. From the outright dark and epically emotional atmosphere in “The River”, to be followed directly by the punch-in-the-face of “Deadlocked” with its intense high-tempo riffs and drumming, is just one example of the variety on offer.

This re-release has given me a chance to discover one of the most captivating metalcore albums I’ve heard in a long time, even if it is a year after the initial release. It gives me hope that the genre can rediscover itself and come back stronger. Combining the Slipknot-like intensity, Architects-y technicality, The Ghost Inside-ish brutality, and the anthemic influence from A Day To Remember, these are all pieces that make up Wage War’s unique sound, and they pull it off in a manner that makes me want more from them. Lucky for me, a second LP is coming out 2017, it seems.

Download: Alive, The River, Deadlocked, Blueprints
For the fans of: A Day To Remember, The Ghost Inside, Architects, Slipknot
Listen: Facebook

Release date 21.10.2016
Fearless / Spinefarm Records

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