WOVENWAR‘s first, self-titled effort was a surprisingly fresh breath of air for a modern metal scene that has begun to feel increasingly stale in the last few years. AS I LAY DYING’S formidable bedrock of musicians, joined by Shane Blay formerly of OH, SLEEPER, to create a record that can probably be best described as ‘atmospheric metalcore.’ Some excellent guitar playing crossed with Blay’s sense of melody and delicate dynamic builds created an, at the time, one-of-a-kind metal record. They certainly didn’t take most of their AS I LAY DYING fanbase with them – which is why it’s all the more commendable that they’ve stuck to their guns and pushed that same original, dynamic sound that was developed on their debut. Honor is Dead is a record that simultaneously sticks to the same template as it’s predecessor while pushing the aggression of AS I LAY DYING that didn’t feature so prominently on their first release.
One of the standout features of Honor is Dead is the aggression that is, once again, pushed to centre stage. From the moment opener Confession leaps from a measured opening into a verse that feels a lot more frantic than WOVENWAR‘s previous work to the almost mosh-call moment in the second half of that opening song makes it abundantly clear this record has a lot more teeth than its predecessor. Elsewhere Bloodletter leads in with two of the album’s best riffs back-to-back and lead single World on Fire sees djent-esque rhythms get introduced to WOVENWAR’s arsenal.
Shane Blay’s work remains WOVENWAR‘s distinguishing feature. Although he works in a few more screams on this outing it’s his clean vocals, backed up by the level of musicianship that the band bring, that really characterises WOVENWAR‘s sound. Providing countless earworms across Honor Is Dead as well as lending the more dynamic moments a real sense of gravitas Shane is WOLVENWAR‘s not-so-secret weapon.
The only real criticism that can be laid against Honor is Dead is that there’s no real stand-out moments. Sure, the likes of Bloodletter, 130, Compass and World on Fire are all excellent songs there isn’t really any moment that stands head and shoulders above the others. It’s a small problem but one that prevents Honor is Dead from rising from being a good album to one that is truly excellent.
Honor Is Dead is out now via Metal Blade Records.
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