Wovenwar came from the ashes of As I Lay Dying with change in their minds with their self-titled debut in 2014. Having brought in Oh, Sleeper’s Shane Blay to the band, they made use of his and bassist Josh Gilbert's clean vocals to replace the growls so commonly found in their previous act. Making this change made their sound a fresh one to the over crowded metalcore scene. The now four piece (guitarist Phil Sgrosso left in early October) further their changed minds on this sophomore effort, and it's even fresher than before.
A subtle change is made in the sound of the lead guitar. It sounds so sharp! It's like a call back to the classic metal days. The evidence is found in many of Nick Hipa’s original guitar licks throughout the album and a glorious solo on 'Cascade', which is sure to be a fan favourite live. This guitar tone paired with the weighty bass also allows for both thumping and eerie moments that are almost KoRn-esque, like on the track 'Stones Thrown'.
They keep the pace changing throughout, but it's never jarring. The slower cuts, 'Compass' and 'Silhouette', fit so neatly in between the more riff driven 'World on Fire', or Bloodletter. Samples and minimal drums create atmosphere amongst the simply cool guitar melodies, giving a chance to bob your head lightly after having headbanged your way along to galloping might of the other tracks.
The album definitely sounds angrier with screams making a comeback, though kept to a minimum. This appears to be a good decision with the screams not really being unique amongst all the brilliant heavy vocalists that exist. Shane Blay does manage to go from clean to screams and back with real ease though.
One thing that has stayed and gives Wovenwar an edge, is their lyrics. It's so easy to fall into the world of cheesy one liners and cliches in metal, and their often understated. Wovenwar use such a wide vocabulary without the fear of fitting the words into a vocal hook. They bend and meld their lyrics into their soaring choruses with ease and it creates some of the most interesting and engaging songs you're likely to hear this year.
Change is something that was embraced by this band; embraced and harnessed to make a real standout album that sounds soulful and full of meaning, yet heavy and downright amazing.
Honor Is Dead is released through Metal Blade records and is out now.