Review Summary: A schizophrenic beast of an album, this is deathcore done right.
Deathcore is known as a generally bad genre, with good reason. The majority of people hate deathcore with a passion, citing is a horrible fad of the moment. The people I know who like it are often misguided in their musical taste and believe that the likes of Suicide Silence and Job for a Cowboy are the very epitome of "brutal." I guess its nice to know that Knives Exchanging Hands recognizes that to be a good deathcore band, you need more than breakdowns and pissed off lyrics about whore ex-girlfriends and how much god sucks.
This is truly an album with two faces, one that tries to smother you with heavily distorted guitar riffs, loud screeching screams and deep low growls, plenty of double-bass drumming, and balls to the wall aggression. The other is one that rarely shows its side on a deathcore album: melody and atmosphere. When I say these things, I don't mean that there are occasional singing passages amidst the rest of the music, but that the songs here successfully morph from heavy and fast to slow and atmospheric, implementing slow tempo drum lines and acoustic guitar riffing with no vocals. These minute or so long breaks are extremely well done and provide much needed breathing room in between bursts of loud music.
The album contains seven proper songs, with two more instrumentals bringing the total to nine. The first track is an introduction, and while certainly atmospheric and nice, it is inconsequential to the flow of the CD and unneeded. The fifth track is an interlude clocking it at a little over two minutes, and is definitely a nice touch and makes the album flow much better as a whole, providing some prolonged time to prepare for the second half of the album, which is far more aggressive than the first half.
The first three songs "Nothing Says Loving Like Attempted Homicide", "A Kansas City Shuffle", and "A Man Who Has Done Fine Works." all follow the same relative formula. They start out fast, and begin playing out with some moderately technical guitar work (solos, bridges), and a blend of high/low screaming. A breakdown or two are thrown in for good measure, but they in no way hinder the album, as they are used sparingly. After the interlude, the album careens into the last four songs.
"Clara, Verata, Nicto", "The Coppertone On The PH Scale", and "The Death Of Pappy Gatmus" are relentless songs that feature some of the best musicianship on the album. The drumming is especially well done on the first of the trio, with a brief but impressive intro fill. The second is really a showcase for the vocals, with the track displaying the wide range of the screams. The third is where the guitar has its moment of glory, providing some intricate fretwork and interesting riffs that stand out among the other songs, which is something rare for the genre.
The final track "A Box Full Of Legos And Good Intentions" is a 19 minute track, but the first seven are the actual song, followed by about seven minutes of silence that leads into a hidden track. The actual song itself is definitely the best on the album. Every member of the band gets to show off in these incredible seven minutes, and contains tons of guitar solos, drum fills, bass grooves, and vocal passages. This sounds like a lot at once, but it unfolds throughout the seven minutes and comes together extremely well. The hidden track serves as a closer to the album, featuring the only clean vocals here. The whole thing comes to a close with some guitar feedback and distortion, effectively ending one of the better albums in the genre.
So if deathcore is something you revile, then give The War of Speech, The Weapon of Words
a shot, it might just change your mind. If you consider yourself a fan of the genre, but are confined to the likes of Suicide Silence and Job For A Cowboy, pick this up and find out that real musicianship is more than just chug chug weeeeeeeeeee breakdowns.