Year Released: 5 August 2014
Label Metal Blade Records Genre Heavy Metal | Post-Metalcore
This is an important album for the former members of As I Lay Dying (AILD) and vocalist Shane Blay. It was essential for it to be more than good, it had to be great — even if Wovenwar sounds nothing like AILD. However, the debut self-titled Wovenwar album acknowledges it’s heritage and attempts to break away from it with the bookend intro/outro tracks “Foreward” and “Onward,” both hitting that motivational/inspirational sense of overcoming turbulance.
Perhaps the most obvious acknowledgement toward the past can be found in the lyrics to “Archers,” which state: “We spent a decade building a band of brothers to the bone, and it showed.”
Despite the homages to the past, Wovenwar has boldly stated that this is a new band with a new musical direction. You can hear that from the outset of album-opener “All Rise,” which clearly puts focus on the musicianship rather than blast beats, walls of riffs, and throat-bleeding vocals. There’s no doubt that the new sound will turn off AILD fans looking for more of the metalcore same, but those who like hardand a more mainstream metal sound will definitely stick around. Wovenwar may also attract some new fans along the way. The style shift has also seemed to reveal a more mature and competent band with improved songwriting skills and musicianship. The melodies are huge, the hooks are rich, the solos are ripping, and the drums are furious and tight. Yes, this is a carefully crafted album designed to be well-liked. In fact, if you like the second half of In Flames’ career, you should probably check out what Wovenwar has to offer you, espcially from the “Moving Up” track.
Wovenwar has done away with most of the hallmarks of metalcore, but the big, catchy, singalong choruses and the song breakdowns are as present as ever. Sometimes it gets tiring and repetitive, causing some of the songs to run into one another. And since all the vocals are clean (Blay being Oh, Sleepers clean vocalist) some tracks tend to feel a little emo-ish, such as “Tempest.”
At the album’s midpoint we’re given a reprieve with something accoustic in “Father/Son.” It’s actually a beautiful song and among my favorites on the album. The worst part of the song is the “Oooooh” chant near the end where a solid guitar solo would have served much better.
Wovenwar shows that they haven’t all together forgotten their roots on such songs as “The Mason,” which has some great sounding chugging guitar work, great vocals that aren’t nearly as whiney sounding as they are on some other tracks (especially later on the album), and some powerful drum work. There’s clearly a reason why the band released this track as a single.
Wovenwar touches on some punk rock/post-hardcore with “Matter of Time,” a track that opens with a breakdown of sorts. Truthfully, the track feels out of place on the album, like Iggy Azalea at a metal fest (I exagerate, of course).
The album’s closer, aside from the outro, is the powerful “Prophets.” It harkens back to a pre-grunge ’90s-era ballad with its accoustic intro and dreamy vocal feel. But then at the 1:30 mark it kicks into a modern metal machine with crisp riffs and then a rhythm section with a wicked groove.
Wovenwar knew that they had to prove something with this project, and they accomplished it with an incredible album that's both mature and exciting. The album's "greatness," however, will have to be judged by the individual listener. Despite each member's success with metalcore, they seem more comfortable and adept at a more traditional style of heavy metal that any fan of hard music can appreciate; it should appeal to the geazers as well as the kids. Having said that, the album doesn't take any risks either, apart from the ballad-esque songs. This album is definitely worth checking out. I do have to say that my first impressions eclipsed my later impressions. After having listened to it non-stop for nearly a month, I'm glad that I'll be able to put it away for a while now that this review is done.