Review Summary: Wage War’s 'Deadweight': A Solid Follow-up Sophomore Release, But With More of the Same
Born and bred within the Floridian city of Ocala in 2013, this modern, up-and-coming metalcore act has made a mark on the (somewhat) fading genre’s community two years ago with their debut album titled ‘Blueprints’. The band, along with notable others in the same vein such as Volumes, Northlane, and The Contortionist, heavily blend the usage of both clean and unclean vocals…as well as the inclusion of polyrhythmic djent-style guitar riffs.
Staples of their first album, such as those aforementioned, are what greatly comprise this release as well. However, there do exist certain changes to the previous formula. For example, this time around, there seem to be more clean vocals throughout. In addition, another change for the better that I’ve found in Deadweight is the presence of a more prominent wall of ambiance. The atmosphere overall sounds very crisp and consistent. Not that it was a mess in Blueprints, it’s just that the sound felt more diligently diversified and, as a result, I felt more attached to the music itself as a whole.
The album opens up with a short, yet moderately memorable ambiance track. The first half of the opening track builds up to a sudden burst of energetic screaming and riffing that keeps you at the edge of your seat for a minute. Then, it ends. However, the audience is met with eleven more songs that are all comprised of heavy riffing, a mixture of clean and harsh vocals, versatile drumming and the (stereo)typical metalcore lyricism linked to sadness, depression and the sort.
The next few tracks in the album go into progcore territories in the essence of Periphery, Volumes and so on. At times, there was even a Dance Gavin Dance-esque vibe to be heard. Overall, the band seems to be delving into slightly more mainstream core boundaries with ‘Deadweight’, a decision that may not seem so bad at all in this case. The sound is very well polished and clear, with all instrumentals and vocals contributing their due-diligence to the release.
The song that stood out to me the most is possibly “Witness”. Even though the track proves itself formulaic and cliché in terms of the metalcore route, it still merits and represents an old ideal that sometimes less can be more. The message and theme brought out in this song hits pretty close to home as the band discusses the concept of moving on from past mistakes and creating new experiences as the result of lessons learned. The lyricism, combined with a harsh, heavy wall of sound, is what truly makes this song special. The transition in sound and structure kept me wanting to hear more. “Gravity” is another track on this album that executes this notion well, albeit with a slightly less heavy atmosphere.
The weakest track on this release, titled “Disdain”, is pretty much merely a throw-away composition that consists of typical and unoriginal hardcore riffs, breakdowns and harsh vocals put together to no varying effect. It’s that core track that us fans have heard a thousand times before in the past. Other than that, not much to say about it.
The album finishes off with a somewhat balladic song called “Johnny Cash”. The melodies found here are comparable to acts such as Counterparts and The Elijah, as are the vocal patterns as well. Deadweight, similarly to Blueprints, clocks in at a decent length of nearly forty minutes. In all, the only cons worth mentioning about this album are the notion that this is the same vein as their previous release, just done a bit better and more polished; and, that a lot of these songs contain several metalcore clichés, such as depressing lyrics, downbeat vocals, and, in some cases (such as in the song “Disdain”), the run-of-the-mill instrumentals we’ve heard many times before.
In conclusion, this new release by modern progcore act Wage War isn’t half-bad at all. As mentioned previously, the band does a much better job at execution, structuring and polishing their work this time around. The mixing and mastering is well executed too. Hell, this album even reached the top ten of some of the US rock/metal charts as of late. However, the creativity and originality is lacking a tad bit here and there. It’s apparent these guys are attempting to branch out and, while this new release by them is a worthy testament to that, there is still much work to be done. Despite the aforementioned, us fans of the genre (and this particular act) will certainly be looking forward to what Wage War has to offer to their audiences and listeners in the near future.
Fave Track: Witness
Musician, Enthusiast, Reviewer