I know what you are thinking, why out of everybody am I reviewing a Metalcore CD? Well, when it came in, I figured to give it a listen, as I did not have much else to listen to, and would you look at that – it does not sound half bad! Well, half yes, but I’ll come to that in a moment or two. WAR OF AGES is one of the latest releases on American Facedown Records and it is a Christian label, so that’s a new one for me altogether.
The Pennsylvania band actually plays what the genre name stands for, a mix of Metal and Hardcore, not as so many bands, which throw a few Metal riffs into pure Hardcore and claim to be Metalcore… Anyways, the defining factor for me actually liking good parts of this CD is the guitar work of Steve and John (seems to be a Hardcore/Metalcore thing to only go with first name…), which definitely caters to the tastes of Metalheads. Thankfully they mostly stay away from the chunky riffing Metalcore is known for, especially from the States, but surprise with intricate, very melodic guitars, which definitely help the songs to escape the often one-dimensional Metalcore formula.
Now there is another defining factor as well, which unfortunately points into the opposite direction: the vocals of Leroy. For most parts they are the archetypically annoying Hardcore shouting, which manage to drag the songs into the swamp of Hardcore almost as much as the guitars elevate them and the few clear vocals that are thrown in for good measure unfortunately also lack power and expression, which is a pity.
The highlights of this CD obviously lay in the more Metallic songs, such as opener “Guide For The Helpless”, “Rise From The Ashes” (which would be one hell of a song, if the vocals did not at least partially ruin it), “Absence Of Fear”, “Aftermath” or “Silenced Insecurities” (one can also count in the great guitar work of “Bitter Sweet” in an otherwise pretty Core song), but once the Core part takes over, WAR OF AGES slide off towards the oblivion of the milling grey mass of soundalikes.
So the overall impression is split and for someone, who likes these vocals, “Pride Of The Wicked” might be killer material, but I just have to deduct some points for them, because they are only digestible in small doses. Yet the music itself and, as mentioned, especially the guitar work still makes up for much of it and in the end keep the CD enjoyable enough (and that is also what they invented the “skip” button for) to validate this rating.
(Online November 15, 2006)