REVIEW: WAGE WAR – “Deadweight”
Floridian metalcore moshers Wage War exude confidence and sincerity on their second full-length, ‘Deadweight‘. While not much has changed with their sound since 2015’s, “Blueprints“, the rapidly growing five-piece have crafted a record that is simultaneously consistent and diverse, a real crowd-pleaser.
There’s truly a song for any fan of the genre here. Wage War’s blend of contemporary metalcore elements, abrasive nu-metal and melodic post-hardcore may not sound like a new mix of ideas, but a specific professionalism can be heard throughout Deadweight’s eleven tracks. Fans who are looking for heavy, floorboard-destroying breakdowns and in-your-face confrontation will be satisfied with “Stitch’s Slipknot-esque unsettlement as well as the appropriately-named “Disdain” (Just check out that Joey Jordison-reminiscent double bass section). Growler Britton Bond sounds positively tough with no moment of letting up and only falls to metalcore’s silliest tropes (Blegh’s) once or twice.
Likewise with the fan who just wants something to sing along to, Deadweight comes packed with excellent, heartfelt choruses. Clean vocalist Cody Quinsted’s sincerity is refreshing and makes “Don’t Let Me Fade Away” as well as depressive album closer “Johnny Cash” memorably expressive. He experiments with his flow of delivery in personal favorite, “Southbound” and fits right at home in the post-rocker, sure to be hot single “Gravity“, a new avenue for Wage War as a whole.
Another noteworthy aspect of Wage War’s sound is their instrumental dynamics. “Southbound” is dominated by interesting tempo changes and heavy, confessional transitions through a combination of bouncy djent riffs, unsettling nu-metal guitar screeches and melodic passages that can be felt. As a matter of fact, of any band in the last five years, Wage War have made me a believer in the riff/breakdown formula in metalcore again. The guitarists have a tendency to shred over Unearth-esque tapping rhythms but also crush with low-tuned surges of rhythmic punches. No bland chug sections to be heard here, instead every moment is colorful and used to full effect.
I can’t think of a single moment I felt annoyed by this release or found its compositional choices weak. The majority of “Deadweight” is the perfect balance of self-reflective remorse and spirited determination which is reflected by the heavy sections and beautiful melodies. Even “Indestructible“, which I found too obvious, ends up being welcome due to its positivity contrasting the darkness of the rest of the record. The title track promotes vocal dynamics and chemistry without relying overly on singing and switching into a clean chorus section. That awareness of metalcore’s formulaic tendencies and avoiding them while STILL being consistent thoroughly impressed me.
Right off the bat with “Two Years” it’s made clear that the listener is about to be taken on a roller coaster of emotions and will be witnessing a coming to terms with self. The topical heaviness of simply reading a song title such as “My Grave Is Mine To Dig” is accurately reflected and synced through its sonic execution. This honesty permeates “Deadweight” and, in a way, really speaks for Wage War as individuals. They know who they are and if they’ve changed, it’s only been for the better. It’s refreshing to hear a band who know their identity only improve their established aspects and not be so quick to change with the times. Because of this, I really felt connected to “Deadweight” and that’s all thanks to the genuine intentions of its creators. “Deadweight” is a consistently high-quality, refreshingly varied release for the metalcore genre.