Review Summary: The soaring vocals and excellent musicianship show a new band full of promise from the ashes of As I Lay Dying.
With Tim Lambesis' departure from As I Lay Dying leaving the band without a frontman, it was easy to speculate what direction they were going to head in. Wovenwar
is not what many would expect, as Jordan Mancino and company elected to use the talents of Shane Blay (clean vocalist/guitarist of Oh, Sleeper). The soaring cleans present here are quite a far cry from the visceral roars of the past band, but it was precisely the reinterpretation needed in order to breathe new life into the songwriting formula for these musicians.
Wovenwar sound energized on this release, but in a much more composed fashion than anything that has been heard on an Oh, Sleeper or As I Lay Dying record in the past. It is slickly-produced and rigidly structured, but the passionate wails of Blay and unique leads courtesy of Phil Sgrosso and Nick Hipa help the album to stand out amongst the glut of metalcore bands. That is essentially what will determine whether or not the listener will find merit in Wovenwar
; they aren't necessarily bringing anything new to the table stylistically, but rather are highlighting the best traits of the genre. "All Rise" exemplifies all of Wovenwar's best qualities, providing the listener with a blast of metallic fury meshed with slowed-down, intimate verses and a driving chorus. "The Mason" boasts some of the album's best riffs and also transitions to an epic buildup with one of the album's only screaming sections. This essentially shows the major weakness of the album in general, however; the similarities between songs become very glaring as the albums blasts on through its fourteen-track runtime. There is a homogeneous quality that cannot be denied here, but the most redeeming part of that is the high quality of the songs present is easily identifiable.
It's certainly impressive that Josh Gilbert, Jordan Mancino, Phil Sgrosso, and Nick Hipa have created an album together that does not reek of As I Lay Dying. They could not have picked a better frontman to differentiate between the old and new projects. With that being said, the formulaic songwriting makes the almost hour-long runtime seem much longer and buries the highlights in tracks that probably should not have made the cut. "Father/Son" is the exception to this, as the acoustic-based song shows a vulnerability to Blay's vocals, and points to Wovenwar creating a more diverse record in the future. As it stands, the soaring vocals and excellent musicianship show a band that will eventually hit a glass ceiling if new ideas aren't embraced songwriting-wise in the future.