Review Summary: Honor is Dead, but metalcore lives by the skin of its teeth.
The debut of Wovenwar struck me as nothing more than a valiant attempt by the members of the probably-finished AILD to continue making music. It's all they had been doing for the past decade, what else did they even know? Valiant as it might've been, the group's self-titled debut with Oh, Sleeper's Shane Blay was a severely short-lived pleasure. We finally got to see what the metalcore bigwigs would sound like with an emphasis on melody, but to me it fell short of replay value. Enter Honor is Dead
. When I first heard that they were going in for another record I didn't think twice about it, but I got bored enough to give it the time a few weeks ago and I was pleasantly surprised.
What is Wovenwar's identity? The previous record may indicate that the group's goal was to be the grudging antithesis of their past but now that identity has been found under the leadership of Blay, who fronts the foray with a refreshing passion in his wail. Hard hitting tracks like "Censorship" and "130" are unafraid to sound painfully close to AILD songs, but with Blay at the forefront the tracks feel much more alive. "Compass" seems like more of an interlude than a standalone track and could've been entirely omitted seeing as "Silhouette" does sound like one. The band's propensity for catchy choruses is felt in "Honor is Dead", "World on Fire", and "Bloodletter" as a satisfying for the mostly-dead former release.
While adhering to modern metalcore clichés in a way that will earn back some of the AILD fans when the ones who did
convert go to their bros and say "they sound like old AILD again!", Wovenwar proves in bright moments of the album that they aren't going to go back to their old ways whether you like it or not. Unfortunately for them, the metalcore clichés of 2005 can only go so far before they become stale. "But you referred to the singer as 'refreshing!'" Yes, Shane Blay's singing is definitely refreshing to a band playing the same style that they essentially had done with a more skewed split of growled/clean vocals with Lambesis at the forefront, but it doesn't make bad metalcore clichés any less bad. It's hard to look at HID
as anything more than a 20-something's refuge in a genre that long ago gave away the throne it so briefly sat on in the metal world.
The bros telling their bros "bro, the AILD sound is back", I think, are wrong. Wovenwar has proven that they are not As I Lay Dying and the Gothenburg-influenced style of metalcore they spent so long playing and fans will have to wait for Mantits Lambesis to make his return in 4(?) years for Quadruple Brutal if they want to hear anything like that ever again. In the meantime, Shane Blay and co. have for us a melodic brand of modern metalcore that'll satisfy most entry-level metal fans.
See tracks: Silhouette, Stones Thrown, Cascade