Review Summary: Wage War fail to separate themselves from the pack.
Ocala FL's, Wage War 3rd record was an important step for a band trying to separate themselves from the rest of the pack. Their first two albums 'Blueprints' and 'Deadweight' demonstrated an instantly recognisable metalcore sound delivered by Briton Bond's heavy screams and guitarist Cody Quistad's soaring cleans and while they were guilty of retreading a path long since gone down, they were solid enough to stick out and build a fan base.
'Pressure' is a disappointing record. It's as simple as that. While their first two albums delivered a heavy metalcore approach, that has mostly been dropped in favour of a softer sound that doesn't make them stand out but get lost in the crowd. Several songs suffer from this ill-advised change of direction.
'Who I Am' is a decent enough opener with an easily identifiable sound, but it's the next song 'Prison' where the band delve into a song that has been done too many times before. First thing l noticed off about this song was the lyricism.
It's hard not to give up when you go through hell
Woah oh oh, oh oh oh
I'm trapped in my skin, this is my prison
It's a song that screams out lazy writing and going with an idea that should have been left out way before it even got to the production floor.
'Grave' also suffers from the same problems 'Prison' does with its generic lyrics and uninteresting sound. While Briton Bond can show his talent behind the microphone in a clean singing capacity, the song is lost by its average lyricism. The repetitive lyrics in the chorus and the bridge make the song entirely forgettable.
The band redeems themselves with 'Ghost' showing the heaviness the band became known for. Fast drumming, Briton's great screams, a good transition to cleans and a good solo. 'Low' is also a song much like the band's previous sound and it's no surprise that these two songs that harken back to the band's past work are the best examples of what this album could have been.
While the change in sound is disappointing, there are some redeeming features of this album. I enjoyed the guitar work of Seth Blake and Cody Quistad when they could shine. Again, it was my two standouts 'Ghost' and 'Low' which allowed both men to show their playing ability. Quistad's clean vocals are an integral part of this 5-piece and l was able to enjoy a lot of his parts but it was the songwriting that didn't allow him to show more of what he can do.
Briton Bond's screams have always been solid. Songs like 'The River' on previous album 'Deadweight' showed a crushing vocal style and led to the most well-known song the band has put out. His performance on the album is good, but it suffers the same fate as Quistad with the poor lyrical choices.
Chris Gaylord's bass is not given enough time to shine with 'Me Against Myself' the only time l was able to judge it upon. He contributed backing vocals, but he wasn't really allowed to show off his playing ability. Stephen Kluesener is a good drummer and shows what he has when utilised. His fast playing on 'Ghost' is a welcome addition from the average start to the album. His playing in the 2nd verse is solid and should have been afforded more time to show his his chops behind the kit. Low also allows him to shine with the mixing bringing his playing to the forefront.
The production team of Andrew Wade and A Day To Remember's Jeremy McKinnon do a decent enough job with my favourite part being the guitar tone. Vocals are clear, drums are good for the most part, but there needed to be more done to ensure Chris Gaylord's bass was able to shine.
I have mostly neglected to talk about the back half of this record's songs, but they are all forgettable and 'Forget My Name' is easily my least favourite song on here and by far the worst song of the band's career so far.
In summary, Wage War tried to separate themselves from the pack like many metalcore bands do, but they arrived at a sound that was neither memorable or blazed a new path. 'Pressure' should have been a much better album and one can only hope when the time comes to record a 4th LP, Wage War can find their niche.