Courtesy: Metal Blade Records
The end of the old year and the start of the New Year are traditionally the slowest times of the year in terms of new music releases. While some new albums are released over the holiday season and the early part of the New Year, the real first push for new albums generally doesn’t start until early March. Even as slow as the end of the old year and start of the New Year are, new albums are released. However, they are few. That gives audiences time to catch up on some of the previous year’s big albums. It goes without saying that 2016 saw more than its share of big albums. Wovenwar’s sophomore album Honor Is Dead is one of those big albums released this year. The album, released Oct. 21, is a big step up for the band. The band took the melodic hard rock and metalcore elements presented in its 2014 self-titled debut here and stepped them up in a big way on this record. The stepped up arrangements are sure to keep listeners fully engaged from beginning to end. The same can be said of the lyrical themes presented throughout the record, and when those themes are set alongside the songs’ musical arrangements, the end result is a record that as this critic already noted, is one of 2016’s top new hard rock and metal albums.
Wovenwar’s sophomore album Honor Is Dead is only the band’s second full-length studio album, but it can be said that it is the band’s best work so far. It is a big step up from the band’s 2014 self-titled debut. The record’s powerhouse opener ‘Confession’ serves clearly to support that statement. The song’s guitar-driven arrangement instantly conjures thoughts of Killswitch Engage, Memphis May Fire, All That Remains and others of that ilk. That is the case even in the song’s more flowing chorus. The power in that arrangement is a good fit for the song’s equally powerful lyrical content, which seems to center on someone fighting alcoholism. It can be inferred that the song’s lyrical theme focuses on said subject as front man Shane Blay sings in the song’s lead verse, “I call it a phase, I call it a phase/But bottoms of bottles are killing the pain/I call it a phase, I call it a phase/When no one’s looking I take in all I can/I kiss the bottle until I can’t stand/And wake up grieving/And by noon I won’t care/I’ll count the minutes til’ I start again.” The song’s subject asks himself in pained fashion in the song’s chorus, “What have I become/Have I come undone?” This illustrates even more that the song seems to be addressing someone battle addiction.
If the song’s simple but powerful chorus and lead verse aren’t enough to convince one of the song’s subject, one line in particular in the song’s second verse will most certainly convince listeners. Blay sings in said verse, “You cannot hurt when you cannot feel a thing/The past has taught me I won’t remember a thing/I’ll trade a night cap for some apathy/And wake up grieving, and by noon I won’t care/I count the minutes til’ I start again.” This is a powerful statement; one that is just as powerful as that in the song’s lead verse. When the two are coupled with the song’s equally impacting musical arrangement, the end result is a work that is a solid opener for the record and a song that shows clearly what makes this album so impressive. It is just one of the songs included in this record that is so powerful, too. ‘Lines in the Sand’ is another of the album’s most standout songs.
‘Confession,’ Honor Is Dead’s opening composition is a solid opener for Wovenwar’s new album. It is also a solid example of what makes this record so impressive. That is due both to its musical and lyrical content. It is just one of the songs that stands out in this record’s overall body. ‘Lines in the Sand’ stands out just as much as ‘Confession.’ That is due to its musical arrangement and lyrical theme, too. The song’s musical arrangement is powerful in its own right thanks to the work of guitarist Nick Hipa, bassist Josh Gilbert and drummer Jordan Mancino. Instead of the full on shredding assault presented in ‘Confession,’ the musicians have crafted here an arrangement that is more akin to arrangements crafted by the members of Sevendust, Shinedown, and others of that ilk. Such a contrast shows the musicians’ reach even more and is just one part of what makes this song – and record – stand out. The song’s lyrical content stands out just as much as its musical arrangement.
In the case of the song’s lyrical content, front man Shane Blay comes across as presenting commentary on the nation’s division and the damage that said division is doing to the country. The song’s first two verses are proof of that. Blay sings in the song’s lead verse, “Some men are born to reap the harvest/Some men are born to sow the seed/the lines between them are all drawn in/The lie between them is belief.” He goes on to sing in the song’s second verse, “Does anyone know why we’re fighting/Does anyone know the other side/the lines between us are all drawn by/the lies that we choose to believe.” These verses make a powerful statement; a statement of how easily people allow themselves to be divided because they don’t question. In the song’s chorus, Blay strengthens that statement even more as he sings, “If only we had eyes to see the lines blurring/Fall in line if you’re willing/Defend these shores to the bitter end/Everyone’s got a reason/to name the victims and the villains/But who drew the lines in the sand?” He is saying people need to think for themselves rather than just let themselves be divided. Again, it is a powerful message, and one that is as relevant today as in any era. When that powerful message is joined with the song’s musical arrangement, the pair’s partnering exhibits fully why this song stands out in the bigger picture of HID. They also serve to show even more why the album in whole is so impressive, too. While the song serves to show in its own right what makes HID so impressive, it is just one more example of what makes this record work so well. The record’s closer, ‘130’ stands out just as much as ‘Confession’ and ‘Lines in the Sand.’
‘Confession’ and ‘Lines in the Sand’ are both powerhouse pieces included in HID that show what makes this record so impressive. That is due to the songs’ musical arrangements and lyrical themes. The songs’ arrangements and lyrical themes stand out clearly from one another and from the album’s other compositions, too. As important as those two songs are to the album’s overall presentation, they are only two of the songs that show what makes HID so impressive. ‘130,’ the record’s closer, is one more example of what makes the album so impressive. The song’s arrangement is a full-throttle work that conjures thoughts of Bullet For My Valentine, Trivium and other similar acts thanks to the combination of Blay’s vocals, Hipa’s guitar work, Mancino’s work on the drums and Gilbert’s low end. The arrangement’s furious energy expertly catches the terror and fear that must have been felt at the November 2015 Paris attacks. What’s more the guitar-driven composition captures just as well the anger that was felt by people around the world following those horrific acts. The song’s lyrical content captures those emotions just as well as Blay sings, “Explosions shake the city/I thought it was part of the show/A craven is screaming prayers/In a tongue that I don’t know/Paris lights are winking out/I can hear the city scream/While the faithful are rejoicing in the sound of tragedy.” The fire in Blay’s vocal delivery captures just as well the mix of emotions that must have been felt by those who were there. That emotion is just as powerfully evident as Blay sings in the song’s chorus, “Find me one reason worth this hate/One reason worth this endless violence/Find me one more reason worth this hate/Because I have 130 reasons to change.” The 130 reasons in question are the 130 people who were killed in the November 2015 terrorist attacks on Paris. Blay goes on to directly address the attack at the Bataclan Theatre as he mentions the stage should be a safe place that brings everyone together “yet we one divided/Waging war over beliefs.” He is not making any indictment of the people there, but the people who committed the attacks at the club because of their beliefs. It is a hard-hitting statement that when joined with the song’s musical arrangement, shows once more why ‘130’ stands out just as much as ‘Confession,’ ‘Lines in the Sand’ and the rest of the songs featured in this album. Each song, with its arrangement and lyrical theme is important in its own right to the album’s presentation. All things considered, they make Wovenwar’s sophomore effort a solid second effort. They give great hope for another album from the band in the not too distant future.
Honor Is Dead is a solid new offering from Wovenwar. The band’s sophomore record presents arrangements throughout its eleven songs that present sounds similar to so many of its current counterparts including Shinedown, Bullet For My Valentine, Killswitch Engage, and so many others. In other words, the record’s musical arrangements don’t stick to just one style of hard rock and metal or another. They clearly cross those lines from beginning to end, giving listeners plenty of diversity. That in turn ensures listeners’ engagement in itself. The lyrical themes presented in each of the album’s songs are just as diverse as the musical arrangements presented in each song. From a subject battling addiction to an equally powerful statement of people’s blind divisions to an emotional composition about the 2015 attacks on Paris and so much more, the lyrical themes presented in this record give listeners just as much reason to take in this record as its musical arrangements. Each element is clearly important in its own way to the album’s presentation. All things considered, the album’s combined musical and lyrical content makes this record, once more, a solid new effort from Wovenwar. They also give hope that it won’t be the band’s last album, either. Honor Is Dead is available now in stores and online. More information on the album is available online now along with all of Wovenwar’s latest news and more at:
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