Wage War – Manic
Released: October 1st, 2021
Briton Bond // Lead Vocals
Cody Quistad // Rhythm Guitar/Clean Vocals
Seth Blake // Lead Guitar
Chris Gaylord // Bass
Stephen Kluesener // Drums
After having spent the vast majority of the COVID pandemic staying quiet, Wage War are making noise once again and our ears are wide open to take it all in. We last managed to catch a glimpse of the band when they performed alongside Polaris around the country in early 2020 (revisit our coverage here) before the world went into chaos as the pandemic worsened. The reflection of this period and the suffering of our beloved music scene is the basis for Manic.
Kicking off the album is ‘Relapse’ with frontman Cody Quistad‘s soothing vocals taking us into djent styled guitar riffs as unclean vocalist Briton Bond‘s introduction on the album is wholeheartedly welcomed while he screams “Sever my sense of truth”. Quistad and Bond offer an amazing dynamic as not one of their vocal styles overpowers the other, it all seems so perfectly balanced. Industrially sounding whispers take us into ‘Teeth’ where Quistad takes the opportunity the flourish as his range manages to compliment the rhythms section as the spotlight turns towards him. A drum rhythm that abides strongly by the saying ‘less in more’ is nothing less than satisfying to take in.
Title track ‘Manic’ starts in a unique place where softly-spoken lyrics closely followed by electronic synths take the lead. On first listen, I found it impossible to gauge which direction this song would go. The intermittent burst of heavy instrumentals, followed by a breakdown towards the outro brings the track back to the band’s staple metalcore sound. Technical guitar riffs lead us into ‘High Horse’ which slowly builds up momentum throughout the length of the song until it climaxes at the breakdown in the outro and feels like a fun journey to be a part of – arguably one of the band’s finest songs in years!
‘Circle The Drain’ is a slow ballad that leaves Quistad to take to the role of main vocalist as Bond’s screams are given a bit of a break. Big melodic hooks and repeating drum patterns lead the charge on this ‘commercial’ take of a Wage War track. We are quickly returned to the faster tempo we know this band loves to play with ‘Godspeed’. Anthemic drum rhythms maintain their position at the forefront of this song the whole way through. Yet again, we are given the opportunity to hear angelic clean vocalist Cody thrive with his roles and in no way am I complaining about it.
The album’s heaviest track ‘Death Roll’ begins with low tuned chugging guitars which has put a smile on my face. Briton Bond takes to the forefront with his mid-range vocals as he seems to scream with the instrumentals, rather than on top of them, making for an excellent listening experience. Inclusive of a shredding guitar solo as well as double kicks, this tune has everything that would make a metalcore kid’s eyes (death) role into the back of their head as they thank the gods for blessing us with this belter. The pre breakdown lyrics of “cold-blooded until the last breath” is the cherry on top. ‘Slow Burn’ is a softer ballad, which gives me the chance to focus on the delicate lyrics that the more technical instrumentals may distract me from such as “I never gave myself time to heal” and “I don’t want to think about what I reget/I’m a mess/Nothing is picture-perfect”. Hard hitting even without heavy instrumentals.
Next up is ‘Never Said Goodbye’ which is another slow ballad. To me, it feels like a repeat of the previous track and an unnecessary addition to the album. Perhaps it would have struck me differently if the order in which the songs were played was changed, but as it’s presented, this feels like the album’s low point. Bringing the tempo back to a high pace ‘True Colours’ follows the same format and same song structure as the majority of the band’s heavy tracks. It may start to feel repetitive by this stage, but it never goes stale. Judging by the title, I assumed that the album’s final track ‘If Tomorrow Never Comes’ was to be yet another slow ballad, fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised. Lead vocalist Briton takes his last chance to prosper. This track leaves me finishing this album with a much better attitude towards the collection of songs than I had before I gave this album closer a listen, so props to the band for turning my thoughts around.
In my opinion, this isn’t Wage War’s finest work. It definitely has its moments and had me on the edge of my seat in some songs but there are a few too many skip-worthy tracks that unfortunately dull the shine that Manic had the potential to offer. However, I do encourage everyone to give it a chance and to come up with their own conclusion.
Wage War – Manic tracklisting:
- High Horse
- Circle The Drain
- Death Roll
- Slow Burn
- Never Said Goodbye
- True Colors
- If Tomorrow Never Comes
Don’t forget to check out our interview with Cody Quistad chatting all things MANIC here