WAGE WAR burst onto the metalcore scene in 2015 with their debut album Blueprints, produced by A DAY TO REMEMBER vocalist Jeremy McKinnon. Their raw sound immediately brought in many new fans, with the band being tipped as one of the ones to watch on 2016’s Warped Tour in the US. It wasn’t long before WAGE WAR made it overseas, supporting bands like THE AMITY AFFLICTION and NORTHLANE on their European and US tour. Undoubtedly, their signing to American scene kings Fearless Records will have helped them on this journey. 2017, however, marks the release of their sophomore album, Deadweight. Whilst many were impressed with their no-frills approach to metalcore, their first album was received with criticism for the repetitive nature of their songwriting and lack of originality.
Before the release of Deadweight, the three singles Stitch, Don’t Let Me Fade Away and Witness were released to positive reception from their fans. After some time with the album, it’s clear that these songs are the standout moments from the album. Whilst the rest of the songs do add their own little bits, one doesn’t feel a great amount of passion or effort in terms of originality or songwriting outside of the singles. However, the strengths of the band are still in evidence on Deadweight as they were with Blueprints. The harsh vocals of Briton Bond punch through the mix on every single song, with his screams almost entirely defining the band’s sound.
The band, consisting of guitarists Cody Quistad and Seth Blake, bassist Chris Gaylord and drummer Stephen Kluesener, adeptly craft their brand of breakdown-heavy, hardcore sounding metalcore in most of the songs on the album. In several of the tracks, more clean guitar is used than previously, and the clean vocals of guitarist Cody Quistad are utilised significantly more than on Blueprints. As many would consider their strengths to be in the heavier side of the band, with the harsh vocals and breakdowns such as on their old single The River, some may wonder if this movement in the more mainstream direction is a creative mistake. With bands like CODE ORANGE in the US and LOATHE in the UK gaining huge followings from utilising a crushingly heavy sound and insanely low tunings, one begins to wonder if there is much of a future for bands like WAGE WAR with their Fearless Records funded, generic metalcore sound. Whilst, therefore, Deadweight might fall on deaf ears in terms of those looking for groundbreaking bands with exciting new sounds, it is unlikely to disappoint current fans of the band, or of bands similar to them.
Taking a step back, it is important to appreciate how easy it is to dismiss records like Deadweight, and a band like WAGE WAR. It may be easy to say that more progressive and innovative new bands are set to take the stage in the future, and the time for the metalcore band is over. However, bands like WAGE WAR are still gaining a following, record deals and playing to large crowds the world over. In conclusion, therefore, Deadweight is by no means an album for those who are looking for something to turn the genre upside down. However, for fans of angry, chunky breakdowns and gym-session inducing metalcore, WAGE WAR have produced a record that will keep many of their fans happy.
Deadweight is out now via Fearless Records.
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