Wage War – ‘Pressure’

By Dave Stewart

If you’re into the kind of metalcore that effortlessly blends infectious melodies with intense heavy riffs, all bound together with a few strands of nu-metal power, then Wage War will tick all of your boxes. The chances of you having heard of them before is pretty high – not only was last album ‘Deadweight’ a huge success, but they’ve shown audiences all over the world that they can recreate the onslaught they captured on record in a live setting, detonating calculated and stunning explosions of energy in every venue that they grace. 2019 sees the band release their third record ‘Pressure’, and it showcases a band taking their mould and remodelling it into something ever-so-slightly different.

This record is an important record in their career. Not just because they have an army of keen and eager fans behind them now, but because this album represents something. ‘Pressure’ is rooted in mental health and the pressure everyone feels to act like everything is OK, even when it isn’t. The record is intended as an outreach of sorts, encouraging anyone that’s listening to it to make positive changes to their lives as a means of relieving some of that pressure. The message is powerful and, as a result, so is the album.

There’s plenty of classic Wage War sledgehammers in this arsenal, with riffs and pure unfiltered heaviness spilling out of the record in places. ‘Fury’ is a prime example of that, thrusting low tuned pit-fuelled riffs straight down your ear canal as the venomous vocals and relentless drums pummel your brain into a pulp. Singles ‘Low’ and ‘Who I Am’ also flaunt their punishing side, majestically weaving it with unforgettable melodies and incredible vocal performances from both front man Briton Bond and guitarist/vocalist Cody Quistad. ‘Ghost’ follows the same suit, armed with a blast beats and windmill-worthy guitars as well as an elegant and instantly memorable chorus.

As well as the heavy hitters, there’s also a lot of anthemic gold too, shining a light on both Bond and Quistad as they flex their vocal muscles. ‘Forget My Name’ and ‘Me Against Myself’ are radio-friendly hits, armed to the teeth with catchy melodies and big bouncy riffs that will jump around your mind for days. ‘The Line’ is a hybrid of sorts, blending the lowest tuned riffs and heaviest breakdown of the record with the most infectious and hook-filled verses and choruses. ‘Grave’ almost sounds like a Beartooth track at first, with Bond’s voice taking on a Caleb Shomo-like quality during the verses as the walls of chords elevate the melodies to heights the band hasn’t seen before. This record has everything, and it’s delivered with real precision and power. But, somehow, something just feels like it’s missing.

‘Pressure’ is Wage War’s most balanced release to date. Heaviness still plays a big part here, and so do the memorable choruses and singalong moments. They never spend too much time in one element, casually strolling through each of the records territories and allowing you to take in all of the scenery around you before transporting you somewhere else. That journey, though, takes away some of the punch that ‘Deadweight’ managed to deliver.

The blows on ‘Deadweight’ were devastating, using the warm and uplifting choruses as an opportunity to catch your breath amidst the carnage. ‘Pressure’ almost does the opposite, providing plenty of opportunities for recovery as the aforementioned balance of the record takes away a chunk of the impact. Don’t think for a second that this album doesn’t pack a punch, though – it absolutely does. This is a solid and soaring effort from one of the tightest live bands in the game. The haymakers and hooks come in from every angle both musically and emotionally, and this is undoubtedly their catchiest work to date. There may be gloves on the fists delivering the punches, but they’re still hard enough to knock you off your feet.

DAVE STEWART

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