From the bizarre wreckage that was the breakdown of popular metalcore band, As I Lay Dying, comes Wovenwar. The band is comprised of the entire As I Lay Dying lineup, sans disgraced vocalist Tim Lambesis – recently sentanced to six years in prison for the attempted hiring of a hitman to murder his wife; taking his place with vocal and guitar duties is, Oh, Sleeper’s, Shane Blay. With so much controversy surrounding the formation of the band, could they craft an album that would cut through it all?
The lead up to this album was a bit of a mystery. Details about the band outside of the lineup were kept from public knowledge. They seemed to appear out of nowhere during all of the Lambesis news coverage. The project was unveiled with a series of short videos posted online. It wasn’t until the release of lead single “All Rise” that anyone had a clear idea of what the band would sound like. The choice to debut with that song was the perfect one as it’s the strongest cut on the record and really does sum up what Wovenwar sounds like. As the release of the self titled record loomed, two more songs were released, finally giving fans a clear understanding that Wovenwar might have something special up their sleeve. And they certainly do.
Wovenwar have unleashed one of the most impressive debut records in a long time. Where As I Lay Dying was marred with stagnation, Wovenwar feels fresh beyond fresh in a metal landscape where everyone seems to be competing with each other to create albums that sound like their chosen genre and nothing else. Wovenwar certainly have ties to metalcore but to label them as such is unfair. The guitar work is split between the lead going off on wonderfully catchy noodily melodies with the rhythm section absolutely holding down the fort with driving force. This is guitarists Nick Hipa, Joe Sgrosso, Shane Blay, bassist Josh Gilbert, and drummer Jordan Mancino at their best. One has to now wonder if they felt limited within the confines of As I Lay Dying, because this album plays like these guys felt like they had something to prove. The songs on Wovenwar’s debut are full of melodic layers, the right amount of aggression, and riffs and lyrics that will stick in your head for months to come.
Despite the masterful instrumentation, the star of the album is vocalist Shane Blay. This guy has pipes for miles and can start laying claim to being one of the best vocalists in modern metal. He has a dynamic range that flows with the music and proves that the decision to go with predominantly clean vocals was the right move thankfully avoiding the good cop/bad cop clean/screamed vocal trap bands like Five Finger Death Punch suffer from.
Wovenwar will satisfy both metal fans and fans of radio friendly hard rock which open them up to the chance for the mainstream success their former/other bands never reached. Time will tell if the buzz around the band will switch from bizarre curiosity thanks to Lambesis’ predicament to praise for creating a phenomenal album, but Wovenwar deserve to be at the top of the metal/hard rock world. If Avenged Sevenfold can do it with an album that sounds tantamount to a cover album, Wovenwar can do it with originality, creativity in songwriting, and the ability to create catchy music you can’t, and won’t want to get out of your head.
Key Tracks – All Rise, Father/Son, Profane