Whereas Jacob Bannon displays high levels of rage and pain through sheiks and cries in Converge, Wear Your Wounds is a whole other beautiful creature. The opening self-titled track of WYW (Deathwish Inc.) begins with a gentle piano rhythm, building its way to clashing drums and distorted guitar work. While Bannon includes his iconic screaming towards the end, the song primarily focuses on his singing. This is just one brief example of the gift that is WYW. Wear Your Wounds is drastically different from Converge in terms of instrumentation and vocalization, yet they both have one thing in common: emotional strength. From beginning to end, WYW explores the themes of sadness, loss, and loneliness, in the most elegant of manners.
Bannon’s singing is a blend of graceful and ethereal, calling out under a wall of mist. At times he’ll go into a song balancing that line of spoken word, which sounds just as delightful as his singing. Instrumentally, Wear Your Wounds leans more towards generating mood, rather than just material to bop around and mosh to. Waves of ambient noise flow under delicate piano work, making for music that allows for contemplation. This is beautifully explored in “Giving Up”, which progresses with a sense of a somber walk. Halfway, the track picks up with bright guitar distortion, as the ambient energy whirls about in excitement. This energy, while coming off lively, only adds to a sense of distance. “Iron Rose” creeps in with a somber and quiet intro. This trails on for some time, until the foundation shatters, and gives way to thunderous instrumentation. Drifting off into a silence, the drums clash down with an electrifying guitar. Like a lifeless body coming back to life, the track pumps this mesmerizing energy. “Hard Road to Heaven” acts as an elegant piano instrumental that is at once contemplative, and chilling.
“Best Cry of Your Life” kicks things off with a high anxiety electronic drone. Much more “rock” like than anything heard previously, the drumming here is absolutely bonkers with ecstatic vibes. Along with the guitar sliding in a fuzzy punk attitude, the song makes for a moody atmosphere of discomfort. It’s the sort of tune one would hear in a movie when characters are in the middle of a nightclub, and something has gone wrong. WYW has this incredible gift of creating atmosphere that is similar to a soundtrack, while never coming off cliché or overdone. The more somber and gentle tracks are delicately crafted for the perfect blend of pulling the listener into the song, while also keeping them mindful of their inner self. Along with the instrumentals, the lyricism cries out in loneliness and pain. Take the album’s closing song, “Goodbye Old Friend”, easily one of the record’s most heart wrenching titles. The opening lines start with, “My friend, I see you on the edge/ I’ll wait for you here/ I’ll do my best to be the man that you said/ I hope I see you again.” The sense of death and loss slowly eases into the ears and heart of the listener, holding on like the last goodbye hug they’ll receive.
Wear Your Wounds’ debut record is astounding in its range of instrumentation and emotional strength. Bannon proves that he is just as effective of a vocalist without screaming, and stupendously crafts the touching and resounding lyrics that can create a bond with listeners. In the end, WYW is a profound exploration in coping with pain and searching for meaning. It brilliantly trails through these themes with well guided pace and a range of unique sounds. Wear Your Wounds capture these feelings in such a magical way, that they could easily become one of the most memorable bands of our time. In a world where so much is happening around us (as well as within), this is the sort of music people seek when in need of guidance and comfort. Without any cheesiness, without any over the top glitz and glamour, and only with the upmost care and passion… Wear Your Wounds is a gentle light that reminds us we are not alone.