I’m kind of bitter as I write about WOVENWAR’S self-titled debut album. And that’s because as we speak our own JOR-EL is in Austin, TX getting ready to rock out with them tonight while I’m stuck at home. Add to the fact they’re with BLACK LABEL SOCIETY and it twists the knife in deeper. Fear not though, his live report will be here posthaste and I do hope he has an awesome time. As far as the music goes I’ll say this: WOVENWAR are without a doubt the best new band of 2014. The songwriting is crisp, clear, concise, and razor-sharp. Shane Blay’s vocals are leagues better than most of the people out there passing themselves off as “singers”, the dual axe attack of Nick Hipa and Phil Sgrosso brings the ruckus, and the bass of Josh Gilbert and Jordan Mancino’s drums welcome you to the Thunderdome.
Opener “All Rise” gets things going with an all-out musical attack and the hook is unforgettable. If you aren’t blown away in seconds, quite frankly you’re beyond help. Hipa and Sgrosso absolutely rip on “Death to Rights” like they’re strafing troop transports in WWII, selector switches on full auto from jump! More heavy comes on “Tempest” but with some melodic and atmospheric breaks that manage to keep you guessing as to what’s coming next. Mini-Amps seems to love it, too (I swear I can’t get one of these done lately without his input!). “The Mason” is the first song to feature any kind of rough, harsh vocals, and even then they’re only done at key moments for emphasis. Once again I CANNOT say enough about Blay as a vocalist, he’s outstanding, something many of you know from his work in OH, SLEEPER.
The rhythm of “Moving Up” alternates between hammering and a mid-tempo groove that will suck you in right away. I predict this one will be a single that does extremely well and the solo is probably my favorite on the whole album along with the one on “Sight of Shore”, the latter featuring some great dual guitar work. A soft and brooding side of the band manifests itself in “Father/Son” which is another one I couldn’t stop playing when I first got my copy a month ago. “Profane” is another standout and is garnering serious airplay as we speak, for good reason. Jackhammer riffs and runs will do that, especially when combined with the rhythm section in one monumental sonic brew designed to melt speakers everywhere. This leads us to “Archer” which has got to be my favorite track, PERIOD. Actually, this triumvirate of tunes alone is enough to catapult the album high up in the pantheon of releases in 2014; the fact that every other song surrounding them is outstanding only cements that.
More heavy-meets-melodic takes place on “Ruined Ends” and “Identity”, something this band does extremely well. The guitars are being utilized so that they combine both without losing the overall heavy aesthetic and that only adds a rich texture to all the songs. “Matter of Time” is one of the angrier songs in this collection which suited me just fine and closer “Prophets” showcases the vocal harmonies in an acoustic setting before taking the hammer to our heads one last time. Overall I feel like WOVENWAR have delivered one of the best debut albums I have heard in a LONG time and I’ll bet it’s on a lot of year-end Top 10 Lists. It’s impossible to listen to this thing just once. It comes out August 5 via Metal Blade Records; make sure you snag your copy. I can’t wait to get JOR-EL’S live report, too (lucky fucker!).
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM