Wage War – Deadweight (Album Review)

WAGE WAR – Deadweight
Released: 4th August 2017

WAGE WAR line up:

Briton Bond – Vocals
Cody Quistad – Guitar, Vocals
Seth Blake – Guitar
Chris Gaylord – Bass
Stephen Kluesener – Drums

WAGE WAR online:

Website
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Ocala, Florida’s metalcore outfit Wage War exploded onto the scene in 2015 with their release of Blueprints, their debut album. A relentless combo of brutal riffs and face-pounding drums, singles such as ‘Alive‘ and ‘The River‘ that cemented their place as one of the hottest up-and-coming heavyweights.

 

For their follow up release, Deadweight, they’ve teamed up again with producer Jeremy McKinnon to try and recreate some of the magic of their first release. Also, excitingly, they’ve announced an Australian tour, supporting homegrown legends Make Them Suffer, later this year. Tour details here.

Similarly to Blueprints, Deadweight launches with intro track ‘Two Years’, building the energy of the album, dropping into an incredibly Wage War-esque minute of riffs. The song isn’t anything more than an intro track still, but the tone it sets is reassuring. Jumping straight into ‘Southbound‘, Briton Bond’s vocals immediately jump in with full force, before making way for Cody Quistad’s cleans to soar across the chorus – it’s a combo that Wage War use often, yet with more than enough variety to avoid Amity like boredom. The entire song is groove city, with a nose-wrinkling breakdown in the latter half. It’s not a standout, but it’s solid and unrelenting – no complaints here. Next, we jump into second single ‘Don’t Let Me Fade Away‘ – this is one for the fans of Wage’s euphoric cleans. With an opening verse once again steering us straight into headbang territory, eventually reaching thea chorus of ‘don’t let me fade away’s, complete with pitch perfect harmonisation on each utterance. Gang vocals are always a fun time – and I can see the sing alongs going off at live shows. A brutal breakdown makes way to a similarly clean-vocalled bridge, before bringing it home with an aggressive finish. Instant classic.

 

Stitch‘, the album’s first single, comes next. This one is the biggest departure for the band’s sound so far – edging slightly towards nu-metal on the intro, with an edge of thrash in the verses. The first time I heard this track it didn’t quite speak to me…but on subsequent listens it’s more and more come to blow me away. The song ends with a false finish, lulling you into a false sense of security before dropping one final, drop key breakdown. ‘Witness‘, the album’s third single, follows – starting a little quietly, dropping into more groovy chugs. Groove city, population Wage War, I tell you what. The formula here is slightly reversed, with a clean verse, before Briton’s screams come back. The song is relentless and fast paced – and the singalong vocals at the end of the track will definitely echo around any venue the track is dropped at.

 

Album title ‘Deadweight‘ comes in for the sixth track – this is the track where the audience will be told ‘I want to see every one of you jumping when this one kicks in!’. Or maybe not – I’m just saying, it’s likely. The chorus pulls off the difficult task of sing-along-unclean vocals, before jumping into a double time second verse. It’s tricks like this that Wage use to keep their tracks unique and fresh, while not quite re-inventing the metalcore formula. This track has a pretty hype pit call too, followed by an industry leading ‘blegh’. The breakdown hits hard and carries us into the next track, ‘Gravity‘ which starts with a melodic riff, leading into a softer, clean vocalled verse and chorus. Again, the chorus will no doubt inspire a legion of gang vocals at shows. We eventually hit some unclean vocals near the end of the track, and their inclusion feels earned and fitting, as opposed to forced. It’s a great track, a respite from the nonstop brutality of the rest of the album.

…which continues with ‘Never Enough‘. Relentless verse gives way to groovy, soaring chorus (sensing a pattern here?), complete with tight mid-section bridge. I’d like to take a moment here to comment on the impeccable production of the album – the vocals waver between clean and edge right when they need to do, guitars chug and sing, the stereo image too is understated but tight. If you like the ADTR sound (especially Common Courtesy era), this is probably for you. (Also ‘Never Enough’ ends with a top notch breakdown. It’s good stuff.) ‘Indestructible‘ hits the formula beat for beat again – but I need to stress, this isn’t really a criticism. This time, the track varies up the texture with sweeping, stereo guitars, and a key change at the end which is a bit of fun, leading into the final, hard hitting breakdown.

Disdain‘ is in the vain of ‘Stitch‘, harder hitting, slightly thrashy, Briton pushing his vocals to have a harsher edge – this track’s almost a little…Beartoothy? That’s meant as a compliment – and they maintain their identity as Wage War while doing it. ‘My Grave Is Mine To Dig‘ is a slight change in feeling again, heading in an emotional direction similar to Gravity. Remember how good ‘Youngblood’ was, on Blueprints? Think of that here. It’s worth again noting how thick the guitars sound on this album, and this track showcases them perfectly, before fading smoothly into the final track, Johnny Cash.

Starting with clean vocals, Johnny Cash is the ultimate show ending song – everyone’s arms in the air, slightly moist eyed, rocking back and forth. It’s Wage’s Drown, or Horizons.

Is this album as good as Blueprints? Only time will tell – Blueprints has the advantage of time, and the surprise of a new band that rocked that hard (plus the cough break in The River is hard to beat). But Deadweight definitely holds its own, and has a legion of tracks which I’m keen to hear on their upcoming tour for sure.

 

WAGE WAR – Deadweight tracklisting

  1. Two years
  2. Southbound
  3. Don’t Let Me Fade Away
  4. Stitch
  5. Witness
  6. Deadweight
  7. Gravity
  8. Never Enough
  9. Indestructible
  10. Disdain
  11. My Grave Is Mine To Dig
  12. Johnny Cash

Rating: 8/10
Deadweight is out 4 August 2017 via Fearless Records. Pre-Order here
Review by Michael Parente

Check out out interview with Cody Quistad here

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