I’m not a big metalcore guy. The mosh pit frightens me. Wovenwar aren’t really metalcore, but they do have deep roots in the genre. After all, they are essentially As I Lay Dying sans incarcerated singer Tim Lambesis.
In their first release, 2014’s self-titled debut, metalcore took a back seat to straight-up modern metal, with singer Shane Blay (ex-Oh, Sleeper) ditching the screaming altogether in favor of a more melodic approach. The results were satisfying, but not spectacular.
Having had a couple years to get used to each other, and to write new material as a complete unit, Honor is Dead is a far more aggressive, visceral album and yes, the screamo vocals are back – not completely, but perhaps enough to satisfy AILD fans.
Things start out heavy and fast with “Confession” and “Censorship,” the first two cuts, with Blay screaming in fury amidst machine-gun staccato riffs. Both songs follow the same template of musical ferocity offset by big, melodic choruses. It’s a generic format, but Wovenwar are seasoned vets and they pull off these songs with aplomb.
Not every song hearkens back to the AILD metalcore days – or at least, not to the same degree as the openers. The title track is more of a metalcore-tinged piece of modern metal, as is “Lines in the Sand,” while “World on Fire” is straight-up metal and “Compass” and “Silhouette” are both moody, atmospheric numbers that let us catch our breath from the pummeling we’ve been receiving. Those two tracks aside, Honor is Dead is a fast, energetic, album that will keep fists pumping, chests bashing, and heads banging.
Performances are excellent on Honor is Dead. Blay flexes his melodic and his screamo muscles, the rhythm section is dialed in tighter than a wristwatch wound beyond reason, and the guitar work is exemplary. Production suits the music perfectly, with an aggressive mix and that’s definitely squashed as far as the dynamics go, but nevertheless manages to bring vocals and solos to the fore. Bottom end is not lacking, and the scattering of breakdowns throughout the record shake the speakers.
The songwriting is also tight on Honor is Dead. The eleven songs clock in at a svelte 39 minutes with the longest cut being just 4:02. More of this type of music would turn an energetic album into an exhausting one, and we would lose interest. Luckily that doesn’t happen, and Wovenwar have crafted a scorcher of a heavy metal/metalcore offering for us. Fans of both Wovenwar’s debut as well as previous As I Lay Dying material will be stoked when they hear Honor is Dead.
(released October 21, 2016 on Metal Blade)