Album Review: WOVENWAR Honor Is Dead
When controversy closely follows a band, the actual music itself can get easily overshadowed. I feel that this has definitely been the case for Wovenwar, and to be fair it’s not necessarily a bad thing. The controversy helped to fuel their compositions as well as their public image which made the anticipation of their first album pretty big. Their self-titled debut album was rated fairly well by myself and other critics, but it’s still rather difficult to separate the band from the events that helped to birth them. Wovenwar has another chance with Honor Is Dead to see if we can start seeing them as another band in the metal community, or if they’re just “that one band that used to be that other band”.
If you are pretty up to date on your news stories in the metal community, then the name Wovenwar will probably conjure up quite the story. As an extremely brief overview, because I feel that this story and controversy has been drawn out enough, Wovenwar is the supergroup of Oh, Sleeper and As I Lay Dying. The members consist of vocalist Shane Blay of OS, and AILD members minus vocalist Tim Lambesis. The group formed in the aftermath of Tim Lambesis being arrested and eventually convicted for solicitation of murder of his wife. Wovenwar released their self-titled debut in 2014 to some mixed reactions. People wanted AILD and didn’t get it, or people wanted something different and didn’t really get that either. So now with their sophomore release, Honor Is Dead, maybe their controversy and pre-formed reputations are behind them. And, perhaps now they can simply exist as a regular band in the metal world.
I had the opportunity to review the first Wovenwar a couple of years ago. This was when they were still pretty fresh from all of the controversy, and I know I was super anxious to hear what it was going to sound like. I personally felt that the album ended up sounding a lot like an AILD album with a little more emphasis on melody and clean vocals, which made a lot of sense. The band is mostly the remnants of AILD so it’s only logical. Honor Is Dead however is a very definite change in style which may not be considered a good thing in this instance
The opening track, “Confession”, sounds almost note for note like any OS song, which was interesting because there was definitely a stronger AILD feel from the first album. But then the next track, “Censorship”, brings the album in a completely different direction. The first thing to notice is the guitar tuning. The first Wovenwar album has never drifted below a drop D, but they have now gone down to a full drop A. The main riff sounds much heavier as a result and even has more of a chuggy feel overall that we never really heard from the first. Many songs on Honor Is Dead fully utilize this tuning, much like many other metalcore bands have started to employ. “Lines In The Sand” is another good example of a decently groovy riff that is really emphasized on the low notes of the guitar.
"Lines In The Sand"
But therein lies the rub. The tuning, the chugging style of riffage, and even the clean vocals gives the album a sound severely comparable to many other bands out there. It’s certainly written incredibly well, arguably better than most other metalcore bands, but there is a loss of identity and uniqueness in Honor Is Dead that we once had in the last album. It just felt so much more emotionally compelling and unparalleled that seemed to separate them from the other bands of their caliber. But their compositional style, whilst it is definitely different and innovative in comparison to the previous album, ironically makes it sound much more generic and even forgettable to a certain degree.
"World On Fire"
For those who have been complaining that Wovenwar doesn’t sound like As I Lay Dying (they’re a different band you nincompoops, get over it), Honor Is Dead is not going to change your mind. This album might not even win over the fans of the last album, but I’m not too sure if it will win over too many new fans. The shift in musical direction will probably grab the attention of newcomers, but I’m not convinced the rest of the album has enough material to keep them interested. I don’t mean to sound overly mean, but I feel that this album will drift into the forgettable category. Instead, I might just want to break out the old album again and give it a good listen again.