Pic by Ty Watkins
The events around and causing the imprisonment of As I Lay Dying frontman Tim Lambesis is a well-publicised happening which does not need our commentary. It also left the rest of the band with a major decision. No strangers to success and acclaim, the remaining quartet of guitarists Nick Hipa and Phil Sgrosso, bassist Josh Gilbert, and drummer Jordan Mancino had to decide their next step and thankfully chose with music their life and calling, to strike forward with a new project and what a stunning proposition it has turned out to be. Recruiting lifelong friend and ex-lead guitarist/vocalist of Oh, Sleeper, Shane Blay, the quintet emerged as Wovenwar and has just unleashed a monster of a debut, in their fifteen track self-titled album. Exploring with muscular ferocity and passionate tenacity the melodic metal side of their imagination, the band has created a proposition as distinctly different yet equal in quality and temptation to anything their previous triumphs have unveiled.
Recorded with producer Bill Stevenson (Descendents, Rise Against, NOFX, Black Flag) and mixed by Colin Richardson (Slipknot, Machine Head, Trivium), the album also reaps with sinew driven voracity the rich essences of hard rock to create blazes of sound and enterprise which stand astride genres whilst offering recognisable flames within fresh adventures. On top of that there are the, at times breath-taking and always tantalising vocals of Blay, his clean tones which helped shape his previous band given full expansive rein here to excel and show the strength and weight of the man’s power and craft. It is a magnetic and persistently surprising mesh of sound and ideation which courses the album and immediately awakens attention and appetite through All Rise which follows the opening intro of Foreword. A drama instilled prelude to the creative emprise ahead, the opening track makes for a potent coaxing before the second track explodes with a thumping roll of rhythms, agitated riffs, and a sonic shaping of melodic intent. It is a busy entrance soon enhanced by Blay and the heavy throated predation of the bass. The track is swiftly as anthemic as it is technically bewitching, guitars and drums nimble footed yet leaving heavy impressions with their stormy endeavour.
Death to Rights erupts with similarly intensive and rugged energy and adventure next, jagged riffs and demanding rhythms evolving into scorching weaves of melodic passion and sonic intrigue, though that only hints at the fluid movement and invention within the blistering encounter. As the album, every aspect of the song calls out with invigorated energy and refreshing ideation, raw and almost antagonistic power crowding in with sultry melodies and rapacious infectiousness. It is probably unfair to say the members of the band have found a new lease of life with Wovenwar but certainly there is a freedom and elation to the sound and passion behind it which is as magnetic as the songs themselves.
Through Tempest and The Mason, band and album continue to impress with no restraint. The first of the two finds a carnivorous tone to the bass which alone ignites the passions but also makes a shapely blend of that aggression with an elegant melodically tempering countenance to remind of a more ferocious Sick Puppies. The second of the pair digs into a more furious breath in sound and personality, though the rich tones of Blay never allows the primal intent and fury beneath his vocals to have complete reign with their glorious causticity. The same applies to Moving Up and Sight of Shore, though they are more even tempered naturally with easily pleasing and flawlessly accomplished if less imposingly striking presences compared to previous songs on the album. Each leave a greedy appetite well fed nevertheless before Father Son makes its claim for best track notoriety. The song is simply bewitching, its soothing melodic opening caress over a metronomic lure, irresistible coaxing which increases in temptation as soon as Blay opens up his deliciously mesmeric tones. With keys an evocative ambience over the picturesque narrative of the guitars, and both colourful scenery in a mountain range of epic rhythmic enticement, the track is pure poetry as it leads to its mouth-watering climactic crescendo of a finale.
Profane then thrusts ears into a tempestuous exploit with thunderous rhythms and scathing riffery, the track the rawest and anthemically volatile track on the album yet still holding a seduction which wraps around the aggression and vocal roars which Blay unveils within ever formidable delivery. It is a beast of a track which along with its predecessor puts the likes of Archers and Ruined Ends under pressure to deliver. Neither falls at the hurdle though, the first a voracious blaze of entwining sonic rages, passion drenched vocals, and flavour fuelled melodies whilst its successor is a deeply satisfying mix of abrasing textures and contagious designs ridden by earnest and heated vocal expression.
Things take a bit of a breather with Identity, its well sculpted and unquestionably impressive presence also lacking the spark of those leading up to its moment, though again to be fair there is nothing to leave disappointment a chance to breed. Matter of Time is in its own individual way the same, which offers the suggestion that maybe the album was a couple of songs or so too long but with its compact yet weighty intimidation and stormy air leaving senses and thoughts contented, you feel to omit it and other tracks would be to our real loss.
The album is completed by the acoustically opened Prophets, another spellbinding matching of Blay’s voice and melodic guitar enticing as group harmonies float engagingly over the poetic scenery which works into a climactic landscape of equally thrilling provocation, and lastly the cinematic instrumental Onward which gives the imagination one final flight to immerse in. It enjoyably concludes a scintillating proposition which proves that every cloud has…etc. Though its members are no newcomers to creating inspirational metal, Wovenwar has made a debut which definitely is startling and leaves anticipation for their next step afire, and the passions right now basking.
Wovenwar is available via Metal Blade Records now @ http://www.indiemerch.com/metalbladerecords/band/wovenwar
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