Wovenwar
Wovenwar


4.0
excellent

Review

by Alex Dansereau USER (12 Reviews)
July 30th, 2014 | 83 replies


Release Date: 08/05/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Out of tragedy comes triumph.

Sometimes the most trying of situations bring about necessary changes in the way we live our lives… the ones we had been putting off and ignoring, whether because we are afraid of change, or because we have become complacent in the places our lives are currently at, even if that complacency is accompanied by hopelessness and despair. Such was seemingly the case with the members of San Diego Christian metalcore outfit As I Lay Dying as they entered 2013. Their frontman, Tim Lambesis, had lost faith in the Christian beliefs that had shaped his entire life and career, leading to the collapse of his entire sense of normalcy, and possibly his sanity. He engaged in an extramarital affair (which, in a classy move, he later revealed to his wife via email), became even more obsessed with bodybuilding than previously, and began taking copious amounts of steroids. All told, Lambesis seems to have become an incredibly unpleasant person to work with and be around. All this would be sad and almost pitiful, if it were not for Lambesis deciding that the way to solve all his problems was by murdering his estranged wife. Luckily, the helpful folks at the San Diego Police Department caught on to Tim’s brilliant scheme, and arrested him in May after he arranged a meeting with an undercover cop posing as a hitman at a Barnes & Noble, of all places.

Obviously, this left the remaining members of As I Lay Dying in an unenviable position. Their entire career was based not only upon Christian principles that had been violated time and again by their frontman in his many fits of “‘roid rage”, but also on Tim Lambesis himself. Lambesis remained, along with original drummer Jordan Mancino, the owner of the As I Lay Dying name, so the band could not continue on with the name without Tim, even if they wanted to. And after Lambesis made headlines around the country for all the wrong reasons over the course of a year, it was clear that they did not want to. So the extremely talented quartet of guitarists Nick Hipa and Phil Sgrosso, bassist/vocalist Josh Gilbert, and drummer Mancino was left to start again, with the weight of expectation hanging over their heads, and the desire to prove that they were more than just their frontman. Rather than going in a direction many would’ve expected and enlisting a new harsh vocalist, the band decided to team up with fellow Christian metal musician Shane Blay, of the band Oh, Sleeper. That band made a name for themselves with weighty Biblical concept albums that largely appealed to the faithful, but were technically impressive enough to win at least some converts from the general metal fanbase. However, Blay’s soaring cleans sharply contrast with the brutal intensity that As I Lay Dying was known for… so how exactly would this combination work?

The answer, as you have likely guessed, is exceptionally well. From the moment the brief, mood-setting “Foreword” leads into opening track “All Rise”, it is clear that Wovenwar will be a different animal than anything either party has crafted before. There is little in the way of unclean vocals to be found here, but from the instant Blay’s melodic, post hardcore inspired singing is paired with the band’s expertly crafted, technical musicianship, it is clear that for many listeners, they won’t be missed. This is a group of instrumentalists that knows each other so well that they can instinctively play off each other’s strengths to create a more cohesive whole, all without sacrificing intensity. When paired with a singer as gifted as Blay, the combination is sure to win this new project may converts. The best this band has to offer is on display early on, in the blistering intro to album highlight “Death to Rights”. The song quickly shifts gears from full-on intensity to one of the album’s best sing-along choruses, and showcases the band’s stadium rock ambition. Once the furious fretwork of the song’s outro hits, even many of the project’s doubters are likely to be won over. Although this project is in some ways decisively modern in its unusual combination of Blay’s more emotive singing style with metalcore instrumentation, it often feels like a hearkening back to old-school heavy metal thrills.

Thankfully, Blay and the AILD gang have broadened their lyrical palate beyond Christian themes, and the songwriting quality, and presumable lasting value, benefit greatly. Whether this is a reflection of the band members’ wavering faith or simply a desire to explore different musical horizons is a mystery, but in any case it helps to keep the record from becoming stale, as Oh, Sleeper’s efforts frequently suffered from preaching mainly to the already converted. On “All Rise”, the band seem to be directly addressing the trials and tribulations they have faced in the past year:

Who stands the storm and faces
The horrors that darkness breeds
Who will take the life they're given
And cast light for all to see


It’s fairly standard metal/hard rock fare, but feels more poignant in light of recent events, and delivered with the obvious passion and intensity Blay and company bring to the table. Although Blay’s voice suits the music exceptionally well, it occasionally feels like some additional intensity in the form of harsh vocals would be much welcome. Unfortunately, Blay all too infrequently obliges, and the number of true screams on the record can be counted on one hand. Also, the incredibly talented Josh Gilbert is criminally underutilized, only getting to fully show his vocal chops on the last two songs on the album, “Matter of Time” and “Prophets”. Once his vocals have been truly added to the mix, the listener realizes how much they could have enhanced the record. However, none of this detracts from the impressive achievement that is Wovenwar’s debut. From tragic circumstances, a band of exceptional musicians has risen again, creating one of the best debuts of 2014, and a record that amazingly never feels dull across its 55-minute runtime. Those already clamoring for an As I Lay Dying reunion may just have to wait.



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3.5
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Comments:Add a Comment 
beachdude
July 30th 2014


378 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Full disclosure: I never enjoyed Oh, Sleeper much beyond a few songs, and although I like As I Lay Dying, it's not something I listen to often. But THIS, this is my jam.

Digging: Copeland - Ixora

tresm87
July 30th 2014


1246 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

great review and i couldn't agree more mostly about blay's lack of screaming and gilbert's lack of vocal action

Digging: Attila - Guilty Pleasure

OverSlyZed
July 30th 2014


128 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Overhyped. It's a 3-3.5 at best. This album gives us nothing new or interesting.

beachdude
July 30th 2014


378 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Overhyped. It's a 3-3.5 at best. This album gives us nothing new or interesting.

I wasn't trying to claim that it was particularly original, but I enjoyed it throughout, which is impressive considering the record is almost an hour long. Basically, if these guys became a new radio rock band, I would infinitely prefer this to most of the stuff that gets played currently.

tresm87
July 30th 2014


1246 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

this blows anything on crap rock radio out of the water easily

RivalSkoomaDealer
July 30th 2014


933 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Listening to "All Rise" and it sounds like a Bullet for my Valentine B-Side. As much as I cant stand Lambesis as a person, I really think his growls brought an essential ingredient into their sound. This just sounds...trite.

Good review though. Pos.

Digging: Old Man Gloom - The Ape of God II

ExplosiveOranges
July 30th 2014


3591 Comments


[2]

Digging: Apparitionist - Godspeed

beachdude
July 30th 2014


378 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Listening to "All Rise" and it sounds like a Bullet for my Valentine B-Side. As much as I cant stand Lambesis as a person, I really think his growls brought an essential ingredient into their sound. This just sounds...trite.

Good review though. Pos.

Thanks man! "All Rise" is actually one of the weaker songs imo, I just focused on it due to the lyrical themes and it being the lead single. This is definitely hard rock that could be played on the radio, but in my opinion it's better than almost all of their current contemporaries. I recommend "Death to Rights" as a better introduction to the record.

Mall
July 30th 2014


1514 Comments


Definitely gonna check this

Lettuce
July 30th 2014


123 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

It definitely isn't the same without the harsh vocals from Lambesis, and i don't dig it as much without the heavier aspects. Good review though.

Gameofmetal
July 30th 2014


3089 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah Imma check this too. Good review pos'd, but two whole paragraphs over the Lambesis situation was pretty unnecessary when you could have just mentioned it in passing and focused on the album here.

PostMesmeric
July 30th 2014


397 Comments


It's a solid record. I like Shane's vocals and the music is still as heavy as the As I Lay Dying days. "The Mason", "Tempest" and "Moving Up" are killer.

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
July 30th 2014


20058 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

haven't listened to AILD since all the tim lambesis drama but i'm curious to hear this

Digging: Trophy Eyes - Mend, Move On

pjquinones747
July 30th 2014


766 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Went into this record unsure of what to expect. Absolutely blown away. They took the edge off of their riffs and (coming from a drums guy, so I don't know specifics) seem to have altered their tuning/guitar tones to better suite the vocals of Blay rather than the aggressive nature of the AILD work and harsh vocals to suit it. I love this album. Great review too.

Digging: Ne Obliviscaris - Citadel

wwf
July 30th 2014


920 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Was a huge fan of AILD back in high school days so I'll have to check this out when it comes out

beachdude
July 30th 2014


378 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It's a solid record. I like Shane's vocals and the music is still as heavy as the As I Lay Dying days. "The Mason", "Tempest" and "Moving Up" are killer.

Yeah that trio of songs all in a row is great.

haven't listened to AILD since all the tim lambesis drama but i'm curious to hear this

It's nothing groundbreaking but it's a fun listen, don't go in thinking about how it compares to AILD but just enjoy it for what it is.

beachdude
July 30th 2014


378 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Went into this record unsure of what to expect. Absolutely blown away. They took the edge off of their riffs and (coming from a drums guy, so I don't know specifics) seem to have altered their tuning/guitar tones to better suite the vocals of Blay rather than the aggressive nature of the AILD work and harsh vocals to suit it. I love this album. Great review too.

Glad I'm not the only one who dug this a lot and doesn't just think they've "pussified" like a lot of their fans seem to think.

Durrzo
July 30th 2014


1130 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm stuck with the shit quality leak at the moment but I can see myself giving this a 4.5 if it grows on me any more. I have always loved Shane's vocals, and the AILD dudes, this album is a joy to listen to.

Digging: Bloodshot Dawn - Demons

beachdude
July 30th 2014


378 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm stuck with the shit quality leak at the moment but I can see myself giving this a 4.5 if it grows on me any more. I have always loved Shane's vocals, and the AILD dudes, this album is a joy to listen to.

Yeah the leak is pretty bad... regardless I think that this album shows how talented these guys are in any context, and they don't have to be performing metalcore or singing about Jesus in every song to show it. I enjoy this a lot more than Oh, Sleeper personally.

cloakanddagger
July 30th 2014


41 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good review, although the part about Tim could definitely have been shorter.
Album is very good indeed, I enjoy a lot of AILD but the whole situation they had has kinda damaged the music, not because it's bad music but because the lyrics don't really represent Tim's beliefs or opinions anymore.
Will definitely pick wovenwar's debut up though, and the absence of harsh vocals are somewhat refreshing in the modern metal scene.



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