Most of us, who aren’t living under a rock, are aware that As I Lay Dying lead singer Tim Lambesis was sentenced to jail time for hiring a hitman to kill his wife. During the course of his trial, the remaining members of the band (Phil Sgrosso, Nick Hipa, Josh Gilbert and Jordan Mancino) quietly began to create new music with Oh Sleeper vocalist, Shane Blay. The new project became known as Wovenwar. The band was quickly picked up by Metal Blade Records and now we finally get a chance to hear their debut self-titled album.
For those of you looking for the second coming of As I Lay Dying, you are not going to find much of that here. Now there are certainly a few tracks like, “The Mason”, “Profane” and “Matter of Time” that bear somewhat of a musical resemblance to the now defunct band, but there are hardly any instances of harsh vocals. However if you are a person that is a fan of well written and well executed melodic metal with solid clean singing, you will absolutely fall in love with this record.
Wovenwar has rock radio friendly written all over it. Program managers and music directors will be salivating to get this material on the airwaves. They will feel like there are enough heavy riffs to pull in the heavy metal crowd and plenty of melodic rock to keep the core listeners happy. Much of the album reminded me of current era All That Remains, but with much tighter arrangements and better vocals. Things have gone well for ATR recently with regard to mainstream popularity, so the potential is certainly there for Wovenwar.
The majority of the material on the band’s debut album is highly enjoyable and pleasurable to listen to. Believe it or not, it’s refreshing to hear a heavy metal album with nearly all clean and well sung vocals. Don’t get me wrong, I love my shrieks, guttural growls and screams but very occasionally I need a break from it. I am certainly very selective with this type of metal and Wovenwar definitely met the requirements. One of the best things about this record is that it doesn’t disappoint with regard to length. With fifteen tracks, it seems that the band accomplished everything they wanted to. I have been clamoring for an album that is over ten to eleven songs and I finally got it. Sometimes an album packed this full of material can be too much but with so many quality songs things never dragged or felt boring.
Because of the nature of this cleaner genre of heavy metal, some songs can feel a bit samey. However that certainly helps the absolutely spectacular tracks to stand out. If you are looking for some truly great stuff, make sure to check out “The Mason”, “Profane”, “Archers” and “Matter of Time”. Man, most of those are the ones that I said sounded most like As I Lay Dying, aren’t they? Don’t worry, there is still plenty of Wovenwar’s own style and flavor in each of these songs. With that said, you really can’t go wrong with the vast majority of songs on the new album. It really is an excellent and somewhat relaxing listen. I could have done without the acoustic song “Father/Son”. It was a bit whiny and felt way too typical. However, later on in the album “Prophets” made up for this little hiccup ten fold. This song has an excellent mix of acoustic and heavy harmonized metal pieces.
When I heard that the guys from As I Lay Dying had gotten together with Shane Blay, I was concerned that the combination would not work. I knew it would be a lot different and was unsure if it would catch on with the fans of the former band. I can safely say that this album surprised the hell out of me. Fans of As I Lay Dying should really enjoy Wovenwar and there should also be a new fan base that As I Lay Dying was never able to capture. I hate to keep mentioning the “other band”. It really has no bearing on Wovenwar’s style or music but unfortunately because of the circumstances, fans are going to make comparisons, at least for a little while.
Do your best to judge Wovenwar on their own merit without preconceived notions or comparisons. This is excellent music. I especailly love the way Blay’s vocals meld with the riffs of Nick Hipa and Phil Sgrosso. He is a truly accomplished singer and his vocal harmonies with Josh Gilbert are absolutely spectacular. This album certainly doesn’t break any new ground. All of this has been done before, but rarely has it been done this well. There are also a few areas the band can improve on, but remember they haven’t been together that long. The growth will come over time so long as they stay together and continue to create great music. If you are looking for a short break from your usual extreme metal but still want a little more vigor than your average hard rock band has to offer, you can not make too many better choices than Wovenwar’s debut album.
Wovenwar will be released on August 5, 2014 through Metal Blade Records. Take a listen and give us your thoughts on the album in our comments section.