Florida heavyweights Wage War have seen their stock rise relatively rapidly in recent years. Despite only having one record to their name thus far, in the form of 2015's Blueprints the metalcore mob have seemingly found themselves wearing the hat of expectancy for fans of the genre, simply put - people are expecting Wage War to deliver on the big stage.
It's within reason too, debut record Blueprints established the quintet as major players almost instantaneously, and with A Day To Remember vocalist Jeremy McKinnon on board as producer for sophomore record Deadweight - they're a band that are getting stamps of approval from respected names in the industry as well as lovers of it.
In a nutshell, Deadweight is everything you want from a modern day metalcore album - but confining the record to such a small space would be an omission. Deadweight is a thick blast of extremes from one end of the cylinder to the other - at times rigorously heavy, at others beautifully melodic.
The opening four minutes of the record comes in the form of the one-two punch of 'Two Years' and 'Southbound' which set the tone for what Deadweight for the most part is - in your face and wholeheartedly aggressive. Lead vocalist Briton Bond's dark, wincing tone anchors the album with such power that Deadweight doesn't need to rely too heavily on breakdowns to achieve its scarring sound.
It's the ebony and ivory of vocal splits between Bond and clean vocalist/guitarist Cody Quistad which takes Deadweight to such a high echelon of quality though. Similar to early Of Mice & Men's blend between vocalists Austin Carlile and Shayley Bourget both in terms of sound and quality, vocally Deadweight rarely drops below exceptional.
So much of the album revolves around the scathing heavy vocals of Bond before descending into the gentle charm of Quistad with 'Don't Let Me Fade Away' and 'My Grave Is Mine To Dig' being particular highlights, yet the album never feels repetitive or like a one punch combo. The pacing of the record is set out to near perfection, with the mix of empathy and hatred riddled tones taking their turns to pump life in and out of the album.
The production of the record feels spotless too, even in the tracks where Bond and Quistad are each given the reigns such as on 'Stich' and 'Gravity' respectively, it never feels like a one man show, quite the opposite in fact. There's a feeling of true unity which comes across effortlessly on the album, and every member has played their part to create what makes for a pummelling sound almost from start to finish.
Deadweight is an exceptional modern day metalcore album, nothing more, nothing less. The leaps that Wage War seem to be taking both in terms of musically and trust in their fellow band mates ability is simply a pleasure to see. There's so much on the album to appreciate, thumping riffs and exquisite vocals are just two of them. Wage War seem well on their way to domination of a genre, and well, who's gonna stop them?
Review by Kristian Pugh