Wage War – Pressure
Released: August 30th, 2019
Briton Bond // Vocals
Cody Quistad // Guitar & Vocals
Seth Blake // Guitar
Chris Gaylord // Bass
Stephen Kluesener // Drums
Signed to Fearless Records since 2015, Floridian metalcore band Wage War are set to release their third studio album Pressure on August 30th. For the last 4 years, Wage War have been honing their craft and working hard, releasing two albums Blueprints in 2015, and Deadweight in 2017 with their debut album including a single produced by Andrew Wade and A Day To Remember’s Jeremy McKinnon. As well as Warped Tour in 2016, A Day To Remember’s Self Help Festival and support slots for Parkway Drive and Of Mice & Men to name a few!
‘Who I Am’ is the opener and straight away we’re hit in the face with a kickass guitar riff that immediately hits you in the face, before the unclean vocals come in for the first verse. The vocals turn clean for the chorus with a resounding screamed “Who I Am” to close it out before the second verse hits. “Don’t forget I’m human, I’ve got open wounds to prove it” was a lyric that resounded pretty strongly with me, especially the “Don’t forget I’m human” part as it’s repeated throughout in different incarnations that do remind us that we are ALL human, whether we choose it or not. ‘Prison’ is next and it’s a change of pace vocally as it’s mostly cleans throughout, with screams accenting the main lyrics of the chorus. Stephen Kluesener’s drumming shines through on this track and it’s super clean and regimented throughout and holds the track together nicely. Track three is ‘Grave’ and the intro is a sweet mix of synth and drums that almost sounds pretty, but in a manly metalcore way and sounds gritty too. “Burn the pages, but you can’t erase it” is repeated over and over about halfway through the track before the breakdown hits and Briton Bond delivers it with such passion and emotion that it really hits you (or me anyway!) in your soul. The sound of a fire crackling was a neat way to close out the track too.
‘Ghost’ is up next and in true Wage War style it turns you on your head, you were lulled into a false sense of calm and security with the previous track and then this one opens with guttural screamed vocals and a punchy drum beat. Cody Quistad also pulls off a kickass guitar solo in the latter half of the track and shows that he ain’t no one-trick pony and can do backing vocals AND play the guitar equally impressively. Speaking of turning you on your head, that is exactly what ‘Me Against Myself’ does, starting off with soft electric guitar and Briton’s clean vocals. It’s a softer track from top to bottom, but the heavy style drums are still there but are somewhat softened for the verses. It’s reminiscent of Bring Me The Horizon’s ‘Drown’ from That’s The Spirit or even Sempiternal’s ‘Sleepwalking’ in the way that it’s softer than what is the norm for Wage War, but still incorporates the heaviness you’d expect. It’s a nice contrast of light and shade that you want from an album so you’re not hearing the same song over and over throughout, and that carries through to the next track ‘Hurt’. If you want to hear some meaningful lyrics about being hurt and being human then ‘Hurt’ is the track for you. Some of these lyrics include “It still hurts, it feels like everything gets worse”, and “Does it ever go away?” And my personal favourite because it hit me so god damn hard in the feels “It always comes in waves, because nothing good can stay” which is so relatable for anyone who’s been riding a high and suddenly something goes wrong.
‘Low’ is track seven and was the second single to be released from Pressure and unlike ‘Hurt’ and ‘Me Against Myself’ it is HEAVY AF! It’s metal and it’s prog and it’s hardcore and it’s brilliant. I had shied away from Wage War for the last year or so because their music stopped interesting me, but with ‘Who I Am’ and ‘Low’ I was lured back in and I am SO glad that I was. The intro is very similar to the intro to ‘Doomsday’ by Architects but is different enough to be recognisable as a different track. If you’re not instantly headbanging to this one while you listen, and windmilling during the breakdown, I suggest you go and make yourself a cup of tea and change the song, because that is the way to ingest this one. ‘The Line’ is up next and its super rocky, with a bit of synth thrown in throughout and is probably one I would describe as being for the radio fans as it’s not really heavy enough to be metalcore, but too heavy to be pop. Prog-rocky is the way I would describe it as I feel like it could fit in either of those genres, but tips too far to one side or the other to be prog, or rock. ‘Fury’ is next and it’s good, but it’s not great. It’s probably one of the weakest tracks on the album and just really feels like it’s trying a bit too hard to be heavy, and is lyrically weak as it’s really just “I Am The Fury” repeated over and over with some not-really noteworthy verses.
‘Forget My Name’ is track nine and it’s unfortunately another case of being good, but not quite being great. It sounds a little bit like a pop-punk track that’s trying to be heavy, but doesn’t quite hit the mark. It is heavier than your normal pop-punk track and the best part of the track is the last minute, purely based on the instrumental side of things with the drums really drawing attention. Second, to last is ‘Take The Fight’ and for me it really redeems Pressure in terms of heaviness and coherency. Everyone is really switched on for the instrumental part of the track and Briton puts so much passion and effort into his vocal delivery, especially when he’s singing “They can’t take the fight from me” as it’s super believable and like he is trying to speak directly to the listener. ‘Will We Ever Learn’ is the final track and to be honest it just feels a little, well, weird. It’s a little bit out of place on what has been a pretty heavy album, and feels like it was trying to be a ballad, but it just…isn’t. It’s a real let down for those of us (including me) who were hoping for a solid, heavy track to round out the album. It’s a weak track overall, and a weak way to finish what could have been a great album. There are moments of heaviness towards the end of the track, but not enough to redeem it I’m afraid.
Overall, Pressure is a solid effort that has a bunch of really good tracks, some okay tracks, and some not good tracks. The Florida boys teased us with two super heavy, and super great tracks and the album is definitely worth a listen, just don’t expect to walk away from it feeling completely happy and satisfied with what’s been delivered.
Wage War – Pressure tracklisting
1. Who I Am
5. Me Against Myself
8. The Line
10. Forget My Name
11. Take The Fight
12. Will We Ever Learn
Check out our interview with Wage War‘s Cody Quistad chatting all things Pressure and more right here