Metalcore is definitely not as popular as it used to be. I suppose many of you would bite back and say that it was never popular to begin with, but you'd be fooling yourself. Many metalcore bands that were so big 10 years ago that happen to still be together have even developed and grown into respectable bands outside of their "metalcore" stigma. However, much to the dismay of perhaps a good portion of Metal Injection readers, metalcore is actually still producing new bands with many of the same familiar elements. It's not what it used to be exactly, but the legacy is very present. Wage War is one of these relatively newer bands in the metalcore scene. And Wage War's new album, Deadweight, is a great display of the power that metalcore still has today.
I'll have to watch myself in the amount of times the word "metalcore" appears in this review, but the reality is that if you're somewhat knowledgeable of metal music, this word actually turns into a pretty good descriptor. Wage War's first album, 2015's Blueprints, pretty much laid the groundwork for Deadweight today. Old timey metalcore elements such as breakdowns, clean and high-pitched vocals, a barrage of riffs intended to get you circling in a pit, and atmospheric elements in the choruses to make them more melodic are all very much present and accounted for. However, if you've been fairly absent from newer metalcore bands, a new trend has become more and more common amongst these bands. Songs are on average a lot slower than they used to be, and have also been down-tuned to basic djent levels. Every song has been down-tuned to a drop G, which is perfectly harmless, but not really contributing too much to the heaviness of the album. And, given that Deadweight isn't reinventing the wheel, the album's slower tempos at fairly low tunings can be comparable to low rumbling construction noise nearby rather than a metal album.
"'Deadweight' Album Medley"
All that being said, there is still a good amount to enjoy on this album. After a short intro track, the album's opener, "Southbound" opens pretty intensely with a picked riff and a pretty tasty breakdown almost right out of the starting gate. And if it's one thing to anticipate on a metalcore album, it's going to be catchy choruses, which is what we get on the track as well. But speaking of catchy choruses, the following song, "Don't Let Me Fade Away" definitely has the catchiest song on all of Deadweight, and luckily they've already made a music video for the song as well.
"Don't Let Me Fade Away"
The breakdowns are a-plenty as well. If you briefly listen to the videos that I've embedded in this article, you'll hear at least two breakdowns a song. And while some of them are run-of-the-mill, you'll eventually run into "Indestructible", which has a breakdown that is so good that I had to keep rewinding so that I could experience it over and over again.
Another big thing that Deadweight deserves praise for is the variety of dynamics from song to song as well. Midway through the album, we get "Stitch", which is a pretty predictable metalcore ballad, but any change in dynamics is better than having none at all. I can call out the song right away from the others because it stands out so well, which is something that many metal albums today tend to do wrong.
All in all, while this isn't the freshest or even honestly the best metalcore album around, there is still a lot of things that are done extremely well on Deadweight. It's a pretty solid album, but I would really only recommend it to other fans of this subgenre. This won't be the album to turn haters to the gospel, but the effort is there. When Deadweight excels, it does so beautifully. It's enough for me to keep a close eye on Wage War's future endeavors, if that means anything to you.