since War of Ages
' formation in 2002, the Erie-based quartet have taken the almost peculiar role of honing their efficient and impressive bread and butter Metalcore; with very little experimentation. One assumes the idea is not to take metal to the next level but perfect the music they find enjoyable to play. Often belittled as 'As I Lay Dying
's little brother' or other comments along those lines, War of Ages
have unfortunately been lost under the bombast-prioritizing mainstream Metalcore acts, and the secular scene. While they may not be the most well-known or highly renowned outfit seen by the light of day, it is undeniable that the group has pushed out four solid studio albums with more hardcore hijinks than the vast majority of seasoned metalcore bands.
, then, and with the group's fourth outing brings the newest facet of the onslaught - Leroy Hamp's clean vocal work. Despite
the obvious overlaps with the unclean vocals (one does wonder how they pull it off live). The crooning Hamp executes it marvelously, with soaring tones escalating tracks like Collapse
, and Failure
to the status of memorable war anthems. Another aspect this creates is that the unclean vocals are mirrored; a largely cliched analogy of the demon/angel face off comes to mind. As I'm sure many reading this will understand, with a saturation of Metalcore groups using clean vocals interspersed throughout songs the tactic can come off as rather hit, and miss. Luckily, with Eternal
this is a surefire hit; the clean passages are used infrequently enough that they have a significant impact on the listener, and the music benefits from this.
For the most part, Eternal
is a full-on headbanger, with the Metalcore thrashing intact (there's quite honestly not too much deviation from the standard WoA fare). However, the record seems matured, with less of the predictable and perhaps less consistent sections from previous albums. Alex Hamp plays phenomenally on the skins, I've found one of War of Ages
' specialties were the breakdowns, and the cymbal crashing within, this is still intact. More
importantly, Hamp plays solidly, and clearly, without missing a beat. Steve Brown and TJ Alford, play spectacularly. Delivering the crunchy riffs and delicious solos, as well as the thundering bass beneath. All in all, the entire band plays efficiently, and in sync with each other. No complaints here.
Where WoA truly deliver is their insatiable thirst for the battle against evil and conveying this to the listener in a musical sense. Every axe to the skull, every ounce of camaraderie, every demon getting their face bludgeoned in. It's easy to get over-passionate, but the band's vivid imagery and undying thematic content deliver on every single blow, and this is where the music really shines. Viewing the Eternal
battle through the viewfinder that is the energetic pizzazz that is in every riff, solo, scream, breakdown, or passage that War of Ages
bring forth is what really is special about this album. Viewing (or hearing) this truly is captivating. Guests such as Tim Lambesis, whose accompanying screams chill to the bone, or Sonny Sandoval, whose rap metal inspired verses add a unique bounciness to the title track. Or Josh Gilbert, who assists Hamp on clean vocal duties, really add to the onslaught of the piece. The album truly feels like a battle from start to finish, with a peaceful but artsy instrumental rounding off the listen with an aftermath-like quality. A satisfying listen.