WOVENWAR: Honor is Dead

“Lay Your Torment Down”

Wovenwar returns mightily. My one criticism of the debut release was that many of the songs followed a similar structure and sound. Thankfully, Honor is Dead is a much more diverse and powerful collection of songs, drawing strength equally from each member’s skill-set. They shortened things up a bit and settled for a smaller collection of better songs.

Shane Blay takes it to the next level, delivering a harsher vocal onslaught on many songs (not unlike Periphery and the like), yet all the while retaining his more melodic qualities. There is plenty of guitar aggression — the patented leads and riffs endemic to these guys — but we never (thankfully) get run over with a wall of deafening noise for more than a few satisfying moments as the focus remains on the song and not impressing with crushing shred. Similarly, Mancino mixes up the footwork in a way that keeps things rhythmic, avoiding the clichéd machine gun double bass onslaught of sixteenths rampant in today’s metal scene. There is a mature vibe here that is decidedly metallic yet melodic all the same.  Who was it that predicted the demise of metalcore a few years back?

If there is a theme, it would be breaking from bondage/addiction/torment – finding freedom and healing and direction. The opening track deals with addiction (alcohol) and the harsh vocals shout the denial/anger while the melodic vocals cry out for deliverance. The music perfectly echoes and complements this battle between aggression and desperation. “Censorship” deals with the pointlessness of pursuing that which is “entertaining for the moment” yet lacks substance. Songs like “Honor is Dead” and “Silhouette” show that these guys are very comfortable with where they are treading musically — it doesn’t always have to be heavy to be “heavy.”

“Lines in the Sand” points out the folly of abandoning unity/fighting (war) over a misunderstanding of another’s beliefs, while “World on Fire” describes the consequences of such choices and perfectly depicts the current state of the world. And “Compass” similarly portrays the most devastating end result on a personal level, when one loses their moral “compass” and indifference sets them to sail in a sea of apathy. Needless to say, these lyrics hit the proverbial nail on the head. I mean, does not “Stone Thrown” perfectly describe in scathing style what the media does to instill fear and divisiveness? Love that abrupt transition between this song and “Cascade” — a song which offers some hope of reconciliation and moving beyond past hurts and betrayals. “130” does a nice job pointing out the senselessness of violence but I think musically the song ends a bit abruptly.

Periphery’s talented “Nolly” Getgood lends his hand to the mixing — and not surprisingly, Ryan Clark’s excellent design touches this brilliant outpouring, adding the hand of professionalism that should propel Wovenwar to the top tier (artistically and musically) of the current metal scene. Essentially, with Honor is Dead, they have attained a maturity and lasting quality not unlike that of Living Sacrifice and Demon Hunter. [Metal Blade]

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