Sharing a home town with A Day To Remember, Wage War hail from Ocala, Florida. Formed as recently as 2010, the band signed to Fearless Records and released their debut “Blueprints” in 2015. Two years on in August 2017 the band put out “Dead Weight” and began to expand their horizons.
The album starts off with atmosphere building intro track “Two Years”. Dark energy builds into a powerful unclean verse from vocalist Briton Bond and Metalcore infused with Tech-Metal riffage pours out. There is an instant hook and passionate delivery though some interesting vinyl scratch sounds catch you by surprise first time around. It’s over too quickly. “Southbound” then kicks up with a continuation of the sound but has the addition of clean vocals from Cody Quistad the adds melody to proceedings while building up the Metalcore side of the bands sound. “Don’t Let Me Fade Away” piles in with more clean vocals and a big chorus while the verse packs a DJent punch. The song itself sounds like something akin to what In Hearts Wake wanted to achieve with “Ark” and where they failed miserably, Wage War hit the target. Part of that is down the the clean vocals with are passionate and natural while not being forced. “Stitch” is a real stomper of a song, soaked in DJent Tech-Metal and uncleans while building atmosphere with eearie backgrounds. It’s huge hook is testament to the guitar talents of Seth Blake and Cody Quistad. Pummeling drum and bass work pile through the verse while the chorus has a scream along quality.
“Witness” starts subtly before building into a verse of call and responce between then vocal duo. The gang chant and nu-metal inspired introspective lyrics over Metalcore tones build into a Tech-Metal monster and barked vocal from Briton Bond across a breakdown that is glorious. It’s almost a shame to fall back to the clean vocals in the bridge. Album title track “Dead Weight” the punches back from the melody and dials in a powerful unclean vocal with a tri paced split guitar attack. The obligatory “Blegh” and gang chant styled chorus is a nice tough and at points the uncleans reach almost deathcore heights, a long way from the commercial touched sound of a Fearless Records signed band. “Gravity” has a soaring melody and clean vocal leads that are a stark contrast to the power of the album title track with Briton Bond for the most part reduced to the role of a backing vocalist. It’s peobabpr the most commercial song on the album but it has a quality to it that is unmistakable and the heavier guitar elements add some style. It’s a crowd sing-a-long. “Never Enough” has a hardcore inspired drum pattern at points with with mixing up stucato guitars with a more balanced vocal play off between clean and unclean. The spoken word buld into bark and lead guitar lines into breakdown towards the end is a real joy.
“Indestructible” touches on the frailty of mental health issues underpined by the big chorus that by this point seems to be a hallmark of the band. The layered guitar with longer Metalcore inspired leads brightening up the sound. “Disdain” is a Slipknot inspired track with riffs pinched from the bands self-titled debut and Briton Bond matching Corey Taylor’s most ferocious bark. Only the closing breakdown actually sounds like Wage War. “My Grave Is Mine To Dig” brings back the Wage War sound once again playing the vocalists against each other with introspective lyrics and atmospheric guitar overtones. Closer “Johnny Cash” has an awful forced clean vocal that sounds hideously strained and very much unnecessary so. When the uncleans and Tech-Metal inspired DJent riffs kick in, the track is saved in some ways but the damage is already done. This maybe the reason for the band releasing a “stripped” acoustic version of the song after the albums release. As a whole the song works and shows musicianship abounds.
Wage War have plenty of talent, that much is clear. The future and further releases should be good on this evidence as long as they keep playing to their strengths and don’t fall for the trappings of commercialism. There are a lot of similarities between Wage War and Polaris in the way the bands are setup and their overall sound, fusing Metalcore and Tech-Metal with hints at hardcore influences. Maybe these bands are the start of a newer Metal sound for this generation. What is clear here is that Wage War deliver with passion and power while also having a melodic presence. There are perhaps a couple of miss-steps in “Dead Weight” as the band experiment and it doesn’t come off, but that is the case with a lot of albums and doesn’t spoil the overall offering. Certainly if the stripped version of “Johnny Cash” was here instead of the album version it would be a higher score. [7.5/10]