ALBUM: Pressure // ARTIST: Wage War
Metalcore has a memorable moment as American heavies Wage War unleash their crushing ode to humanity with their latest album Pressure.
Revered for their ability to kickstart a mosh with barreling ease, Florida quintet Wage War have traversed an insatiable journey through the four years since their debut full-length Blueprints jumped out into the world. And amid albums totaling nearly 50 million cumulative streams and touring alongside fellow heavy behemoths I Prevail, Of Mice & Men, Parkway Drive and more, Wage War have once again delved deep into their sonic pockets to deliver some full-blown evolution with their newest outing Pressure, showcasing the group's ambition and ability in a neat and catchy package.
Pressure opens with appropriate crushing tension as Who I Am slams in with jumping riffs and rotating harsh and clean vocals as Wage War dish up a defiant and frustrated warcry for the outliers and the misunderstood, wrapped up in some tight and taut melodics. Prison initially continues the brutality before stripping back to military beats and vehement clean vocals amid chugging breakdowns. Clocking in at 2 minutes and 49 seconds, Prison may indeed literally be the shortest track in town on Pressure, but it manages to cover a heap of ground in a short space of time while busting out some scintillating production.
WHO I AM (WAGE WAR)
Continuing to balance their mosh-inducing ways with emotive melodics, Grave filters through some beautifully sparse moments between swaying beats and cascading percussion, resulting in a gritty yet ghostly piece that is less frayed around the edges than some of its sonic cousins. But don't dwell too long in the calm - up next, Ghost ups the grunt and the BPMs with a heart-starter of a track that rollicks and rages with punchy beats and pummeling basslines, as well as a palpable guitar solo to really kick proceedings up a couple of notches.
GRAVE (WAGE WAR)
Proving softer moments can still inhabit heavier waters, Wage War take a more maudlin turn with two charming yet brooding tracks as the softly dark Me Against Myself and the dazzling heartbreak of a ballad Hurt both flex their emotive sonic muscles as the Wage War gents wear their hearts firmly on their musical sleeves.
As the album leaps into its second half, we are greeted with one of the lead singles Low, which flips the table on the previous two tracks and jumps into some proggy metal; heaving breakdowns juxtapose soaring cleaner moments, and dramatically carve up one of the most technical outings for Wage War that we've seen in a long time. But just when you thought you'd heard all the genre shifts you were gonna get on Pressure, hold onto your hats because up next is The Line - and Toto, we are most certainly not in Kansas anymore. Jaunty, radio-ready and packed full of plucky personality, The Line is a significant sonic shift for Wage War that almost teeters on the pop side of the fence - and for good reason, with the track actually marking one of two tracks co-written with Andrew Goldstein, aka songwriter and producer behind the likes of Demi Lovato, Britney Spears and Jason Derulo. While this collab may trigger hardcore Wage War fanatics to scratch their heads and shake their firsts, Wage War are certainly not the first to dip into more mainstream waters of late, and it's concrete evidence of the gents pursuit of balanced ferocity.
LOW (WAGE WAR)
Pressure starts to close out with a cavalcade of heavier tinges (Fury) and driving pop-punk forays (Forget My Name), before penultimate track Take The Fight sharpens its claws and roughs up your speakers. Brandishing lyrics like "I know that I'm not alone when I'm standing on my own", Take The Fight is dressed up in some barrelling angst, but with a renewed sense of self and defiance that rings true, particularly in the hands of both vocalists Briton Bond and Cody Quistad. Directly following one of the standout tracks on Pressure undeniably leaves huge shoes to fill, and closing track Will We Ever Learn provides a sad but self-aware moment of ambient heaviness. And while it's not perhaps the triumphant and dynamic conclusion the album appeared to be building towards, Will We Ever Learn is realistic and reassuring in its own unique way, and continues to showcase the increasing unpredictability behind the Wage War M.O.
Throughout Pressure, there are significant moments that'll turn heads and ears as Wage War culminate their internal and external pressures into an aggressively unique release. In a time of utter saturation in the metalcore and harcore worlds, Wage War continue to find ways to evolve without sacrificing what so significantly endeared them to so many in such a short space of time, and Pressure ultimately jumps its genres with confident finesse, sprinkling light amongst shade, while eternally wielding metal at its core.
WAGE WAR'S BRAND NEW FULL-LENGTH PRESSURE IS ALIVE AND KICKING IN THE WORLD RIGHT NOW. FOR MORE INFO, HEAD HERE.
BY TIANA SPETER