Wovenwar is a five-piece metal band that formed shortly after As I Lay Dying's Tim Lambesis was arrested in 2013; the other four members of As I Lay Dying joined forces with Shane Blay (the clean vocalist of Oh, Sleeper) then began jamming with each other. The band's debut release, which is a self-titled full-length album, is slated to drop on August 5 through Metal Blade Records. With 15 tracks that span nearly 55 minutes, it's clear that the guys came up with a substantial amount of music in the supergroup's limited time as a band thus far.
Much like As I Lay Dying, Wovenwar is accessible to both young and old fans of heavy music – regardless if they prefer metalcore or straight-up metal. Wovenwar may actually be even more accessible than As I Lay Dying (and Oh, Sleeper), as the majority of the lyrics are conveyed through a captivating clean-vocal tone, while the instrumental aspect is tipped toward the metalcore side of the scale. That being said, unlike 99 per cent of metalcore bands, Wovenwar does not have a breakdown in every song; in fact, one of the only noticeable breakdowns heard on the entire album comes at the end of "Tempest" – and even then, it is extremely brief.
The lack of breakdowns may lead you to think that Wovenwar doesn't bring the heavy like the band members' other projects do, but that's not necessarily the case. The riffs are thrashy and meaty and loaded with melody, forcing you to bang your head incessantly from the start of "All Rise" – the first official song on the album and the lead single – to the end of "Matter of Time." After the introductory "Foreword," the only chance you get to take a break from headbanging for more than 45 minutes straight is during the first half of the unique "Father/Son," which is an acoustically driven piece that could be considered the ballad of the album. The track picks up near its end with intricate guitar work and chanted "whoa"s before closing out with an acoustic guitar.
You're thrown right back into the thick of things as soon as "Father/Son" comes to a close, though, as the following two tracks, "Profane" and "Archers," are two of the heaviest on the album. Additionally, they sound very familiar; the latter reminded me of Oh, Sleeper's material, while the former immediately reminded me of As I Lay Dying's The Powerless Rise. "Profane" is an impressive song overall which features an infectious chorus that's a breath of fresh air. The instrumental work on "Archers" was actually so similar to Oh, Sleeper that I expected to hear Micah Kinard's harsh vocals several times during my first listen. Wouldn't you know it – Kinard is, in fact, featured in "Archers," as he can be heard before and throughout the final chorus.
Other standout songs are "Moving Up" and "Prophets." "Moving Up," which is the sixth track and my personal favourite, features soaring guitar leads and a spectacular solo, as well as a particularly impressive vocal display from Blay. "Prophets," with its partial acoustic arrangement, is similar to "Father/Son" but even more dynamic and it has a very climactic feel to it. That being said, I think it would be a perfect album closer, rather than having nearly two minutes of electronics and effects in "Onward" bringing the release to its end.
If you like heavy music, there is no doubt that you will thoroughly enjoy Wovenwar's self-titled album. It features most of the lovable aspects of As I Lay Dying and Oh, Sleeper while not sounding exactly like either band. There are moments that, especially if you're a longtime fan of the aforementioned bands, you may think that something sounds quite familiar; however, the overall vibe of the album is different because of the considerable use of clean vocals – which is a very refreshing thing, in my opinion.