Metal Blade Records
Release: October 21, 2016
T. Ray Verteramo
Metalcore, Deathcore, or any kind of “core” is a tricky thing because its basis is bi-polar. If not done right, it comes off as disingenuine and there is nothing less Metal than that. However, if it’s not polarizing, it’s not “core.” It’s a game that’s hard to win.
Wovenwar won the game.
Honor is Dead is successful in that it staples all the elements together – throat and lung, fire and sky – while still takes some risks and breaks the glass formula of ups and downs. They use time changes and dynamics freely, but yet can still paint a picture and keep the main theme in tact, without breaking the groove. Each song has its own personality and texture, yet still fits well together on the project as a whole.
The songs are thoughtful, but not emo. They’re honest. Even without the lyrics, the rhythm patterns and the riffs expel what they need to say and that’s art.
The album is commercially accessible in the sense that it is potentially universal, but not necessarily safe. “World on Fire” may be a bit of an exception to this, but on the whole, the meandering journey is an interesting one to take with lots of audial sights to take in.
The performances, themselves, may not be the stuff of legend, but they can certainly play. The vocals of Shane Blay neither whine or screach and Nick Hipa’s guitarwork swells the membranes nicely. Unfortunately, Josh Gilbert’s bass is a little buried beneath the otherwise beautiful mix at times, but his rich, simple harmonies add the perfect touch by providing enhancement without distraction.
The drumming, however, is very notable; pugilistic, full tommy-gun armory. Jordan Mancino’s work truly dazzles in “Censorship” with a little homage to Judas Priest’s “Painkiller” but adding a dash of his own hot sauce.
Honor is Dead broke the “sophomore curse” and hit the charts in the United States and Canada; an impressive achievement that it is safe to say, “well-earned.”
If Wovenwar continues to play with integrity, while not giving in to structural expectations of their craft, they could be setting a new and positive standard in the genre that the young and hopefuls can strive to achieve.