Manic by Wage War – The Skidmore News
Fans have waited over two years for this fourth Ocala venture, metal band FL Wage War, and amid the chaos of the COVID-19 pandemic, she has emerged into a world very different from that of their three. first albums. As you might expect, this is reflected in the album itself, which takes on a decidedly darker tone than their previous releases. Of course, British singer Bond and company are no strangers to discussing dark themes or negative emotions. Their lyrics have already touched on topics such as suicide (“Youngblood”), loss (“Johnny Cash”) and depression (“Low”); however, this album goes in a decidedly pessimistic direction compared to previous efforts. That’s not to say it’s not a good case; indeed, much of the greater art explores themes of darkness and suffering, and this album has its own rewards to reap.
On previous albums, Wage War experienced the aforementioned dark moments, but most of them focused on getting out of suffering. Here the difficulties are the point, which seems familiar after a year and a half of the pandemic. The group traces a path between the aggressiveness of metal and shouted vocals and a more pop production, creating a musical counterweight comparable to their previous album, “Pressure”. This album, they rely even more on electronic elements and clear vocals. The guitar tips are still there, as are the screams, but they are more reserved in the performance, a spice rather than a main course. Whether to a listener’s liking is to the ear of the beholder, but it reflects a trend seen among other metalcore artists in recent years. Specifically, this is also seen in Architect’s February version of “For Those Who Wish To Exist,” which similarly recalls dissonance – but not emotion – in favor of a more refined sound. If we like this trend, we will love the sound of this record. While this is arguably an interesting area of sound exploration, Wage War and their contemporaries may have gone too far in voice autotuning. Despite this only major complaint, the album is pleasant.
“Manic” shows up quickly in the first track, “Relapse”, about drug addiction, before jumping into the sarcastic “Teeth”. This is followed by the title track, which expresses the theme of mental illness, which is common and therefore familiar to the metalcore subgenre and its listeners. After three tracks in a more modern pop style, we come to the album’s most aggressive track, “High Horse”. Released as the first single months before release, this track is closer to their traditional metalcore style, with exclusively screamed vocals and pounding guitars, and is sure to appeal to listeners who prefer this sound.
Then we have the more introspective “Circle the Drain”. It’s probably the most positive song on the album, expressing a potential to start over and mend, but even that is phrased as a question, “can we start over or get around the drain?” Rather than a statement.
“Godspeed” is about revenge in a way reminiscent of their previous albums, which focused on overcoming difficulties, and offers a return to form. “Death Roll” and “Slow Burn” continue the theme of destruction, the former from an aggressive external angle, while the latter deals with self-destruction and pain.
Then, “Never Said Goodbye” retreads the loss, a subject that they are no stranger to tracks from previous albums like “Youngblood” and “Johnny Cash”, while “True Colors” returns to internal conflict.
The album ends with the bombastic “If Tomorrow Never Comes”, about how to face the end of the world with a loved one. A far less optimistic ending than any of their other three albums, one can’t help but find it relevant in the context of the current climate crisis and pandemic. With a much darker track list, this album is Wage War for today and will entertain today and tomorrow (unless, as the chorus of the closing track suggests, “tomorrow never comes”, then that is. is enough).
Overall opinion: 8/10
“Manic” was released on October 1, 2021 on Intrepid Records.