Album review: Wage War – Manic

Rising Florida metalcore crew Wage War try some new flavours on fourth full-length, Manic.

Album review: Wage War – Manic
Paul Travers

The basic precepts of modern metalcore – the drop-tuned stop-start riffing, the scream/clean vocals, the brutal majesty of a well-delivered breakdown – can be absolutely thrilling, especially in the live arena. They can also be somewhat limiting, which is why so many bands have meandered from more or less straight-up metalcore beginnings to dip their toes into different musical waters. So it is with Wage War. It’s been a gradual evolution and this is still recognisably the same band who released Blueprints in 2015, but Manic is quite a different beast.

Relapse kicks things off with a jackhammer riff and instant interplay between clean vocalist Cody Quistad and his more bestial-sounding counterpart Briton Bond. It’s one of those perfectly balanced affairs that veers between the melodic and the crushing, and it ends on an absolute killer of a breakdown. Follow-up Teeth brings in a pneumatic guitar that recalls the semi-industrial nu-metal bounce of Static-X, before the title-track lives up to its name. Upping the electronic elements they’d previously only dabbled in, it has an almost rap-metal feel and incorporates spoken word passages that are very Corey Taylor.

There are moments of pure heaviness. High Horse and the tense and technical Death Roll both sound designed for maximum mosh-pit destruction but then there are points where they swing the other way. Slow Burn brings more of a melodic pop-rock feel, albeit with a crunching breakdown, while Never Said Goodbye is a pure phones-in-the-air power ballad paying tribute to the departed. Both songs are at the very least interesting, even if played in sequence they're a bit of a comedown.

It’s not a perfect album, and it won’t please every fan, but Manic represents a new step forward and when it hits home it absolutely slays. Get ready to Wage War once more.

Verdict: 4/5

For fans of: Architects, Beartooth, I Prevail

Manic is released on October 1 via Fearless Records

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