Review Summary: Deathcore's album-to-beat for 2014
I hope you like breakdowns, because this album is chock full of ‘em.
We Are Violent People By Nature is I Declare War’s fourth full-length album, and it shows the band taking a step forward in every direction. While their first album was full of undifferentiable chugs and gurgles and the follow-up was not the improvement they needed, the release of their self-titled three years ago with new vocalist Jamie Hanks gave us a glimpse of a new I Declare War. One with certainly a lot more ability than its predecessor.
The vocalist isn’t the only thing that’s changed over the years. No original members from the band’s inception in 2005 remain. However embarrassing this must sound for the founders, but the band is far better off without them.
The album begins with opener “Quiet”, which starts off with an ominous atmospheric background as heavy guitar chugs thunder under a sweeping riff. Right from the get go, vocalist Jamie Hanks more than proves himself as the element that sets this band apart from the rest. And, unlike the band’s self-titled, he utilizes more of his vocal range as opposed to just low growls.
A great example of this is the ending of the track “Shadow Man.” The first near-two minutes are I Declare War being I Declare War, but after that, the song takes a massive shift. The band heads into a full-on brutal death metal slam complete with Jamie gurgling over it. It at first was going around that this was a guest vocalist, but the band has dispelled these rumors over on their Facebook.
Speaking of guest vocals, “A Dark Hole to Crawl Into” features Landon Tewers, vocalist of The Plot In You
. Despite the seemingly-odd choice of guest vocalist for a deathcore release, Landon holds his own and is more than a just addition to the track with his anger-filled vocals over one of the more “djenty” breakdowns on the release.
The vocals aren’t the only thing that have stepped up on this release, the guitarists have also seem to found their niche in the deathcore scene and expanded upon it vastly. There’s, of course, more than your fair share of breakdowns, but they are, for the most part, executed much more tastefully than the majority of their counterparts in the scene. Chugging and death metal riffs alike are accompanied by an overwhelmingly dark and brooding atmosphere, which makes the album a great contender for all your “The World Is Ending” playlists.
I Declare War’s drummer is one of the most formidable in the scene, effortlessly nailing blast beats, groovy riff patterns, and even the occasional two-step here and there throughout the album. The man providing the rumble down under is, unfortunately, left on the back burner. As with nearly every modern metal release it seems, the bass is not audible in the mix.
The album is not without its share of flaws, however. A few of the tracks, especially the latter half of the album, seem to blend together. As with many deathcore bands, the lyrics could use some definite work and variety. The breakdowns are crushing, yes, but it seems as if sometimes, I Declare War put too much effort into their breakdowns and not enough into their overall songwriting. But, no matter what, progress is progress, and it will be exciting to see where I Declare War will progress next.
(This is my first review, all constructive criticism appreciated!)