6 October 2014

Wovenwar - Wovenwar

Seemingly and sadly in this day of age, we're seeing a few examples of groups breaking up due to some horrible misdemeanour by one member threatening to completely blacken the band name. And of course, a classic case in point was highlighted earlier this year when Lostprophets' Ian Watkins openly admitted to some horrible acts of child abuse, made even worse that the victims' mothers had a hand in it too. And in the case of As I Lay Dying's frontman Tim Lambesis, thankfully non paedophilic, but his apparent intentions were almost as vile and heinous. Conspiracy to kill his estranged wife, it certainly feels like one of the biggest ironies especially for someone with a supposedly strong Christian ethos and openly professing devotion to his religion.

As I'm none too knowledgeable on AILD, and still relatively new to metalcore, I thought to take a look at what's now progressed beyond a side project for the other band members, which apparently had been on the slow cook for some time before Lambesis' misdemeanour was exposed. The official stance is that As I Lay Dying is on hiatus and for the moment, the core members are focussing their efforts on this project. They've also drafted in other personnel from a similar act called Oh Sleeper, namely Shane Blay, the apparent natural replacement for bad boy Tim. Now, Oh Sleeper classify themselves as christian metal, which I hope in due time one of us bloggers will have a look at, but for the time being, it's time to give a little airing to this disc.
On first impressions on the opening tracks, the maiden self titled album, sounds not like the half-assed affair I was expecting, and it feels very grown up nu-metal right throughout. Shane Blay's vocals are largely clean and sharp and utterly listenable, though it's not unknown for him to have the occasional snarl just to keep the gilt edged vox ticking over. Expect a wall to wall Oliver Sykes-type roar up to the B-flat ceiling, and it's best to look elsewhere. It's a fifteen track showcase, save for the opening and closing instrumental numbers, brief tenor work at the beginning, a piano accompanying the haunting aura, then the expectant metalcore order sets off with All Rise, some rather melodic chorus, and lyrical forebodings of this "hunter". Good start, then in the next track Death To Rights, more emphasis is put on the riffwork, like the previous song, it's another historical narrative.

It's a similar beat, but different and slightly darker tone now with Tempest, but lyrically it feels hefty and answering a call to move the mountain to Mohammed. There's good reason Wovenwar might be be building on their fanbase from their previous works, but in The Mason, Shane Blay is beginning to spread around his vocal range and hit Chester Bennington heights. However, I'm a little ambivalent with Moving Up which is probably a filler at best, so far a slight let down. The album's almost an hour long, but so far the pace and rhythm is running very swiftly, and almost immediately comes track number seven Sight Of Shore. Mainly complemented by the storytelling, good harmonies and guitarwork to boot. Time for a respite? Wovenwar's next track is the acoustic led Father/Son which I would probably dismiss as AltRock garbage, until the distorted six strings play a small role towards the end. It's another small twist in the album plot but no less enjoyable.

Halfway now into it, and Profane, well, it's a fair appraisal when I say the shredding is exemplary and original sounding and what I believe is a sharp chorus which really sticks well. Archers is no less edgy, but on this occasion there's more emphasis in the lyrical writings, like the other tracks it warrants a second listening. Track twelve is Identity, which feels more prog metal and more like the melodic tones of Symphony X, but now the note takes a darker turn once more with Matter Of Time, and slightly higher hollers from the lead vox and perhaps an increase in pace. Just ever so slightly, then it's an acoustic number in Prophets for the first minute and a half before yet another original metal riffwork, and does put me in a good mind of 1970s metal. It does feel memorable but all too sudden it all ends with the piano loops in Onward.

It's been a long while since I lamented an album ending all too soon just when I was beginning to really enjoy listening to it, and it doesn't feel as long as the fifty four minutes it runs. However, I'm hearing that there are some fans who bemoan the fact that the lead vocalist isn't reaching up to the high notes as he should. However, I do remember it took about 10 years for Symphony X's Russell Allen to start comfortably reaching his range and then progress beyond. And as far as this project is going, it's my hope that it extends beyond this fine album, because  I know that while the AILD members were already embarked on this material, I'm confident that there's plenty more of Wovenwar to come. Now, I'm going back to a third listen....

8.5 out of ten. Oh, now you have my attention, and maybe my money, time and heart.
Best Track : Profane

Buy the album here on Amazon
Listen to Wovenwar here on Spotify
Click on this link Deezer users
Official Wovenwar website on this link here
Official Facebook page here

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