More singers should try to have their wives killed if the resulting project to come from that nightmare sounds like Wovenwar. Holy shit is this project great! Being perfectly honest, I wasn't much of an As I Lay Dying fan, so hearing that the surviving members were forming a new project and carrying on with a new singer and new name didn't exactly have me waiting by the email box for a download link. In fact, the music sat in my cloud about 3 weeks before I even gave it a listen. Big mistake. WOVENWAR is one of the most appealing modern metal releases of the last year; a flurry of modern guitar, great vocals, and catchiness that avoids so many of today's bands. Simply put, this disc rocks.
To be clear here, Wovenwar is not reinventing the wheel of what today's modern metal is. Instead, they are just doing it really, really well. Songs like "Moving Up" and "The Mason" are perfect blueprints for the skinny jeans wearing, heavily gauged earlobe sporting dopes in bands to follow. Wovenwar get major points for the performance of singer Shane Blay. Coming over from Oh, Sleeper, Blay is one of the best singers in this genre today. His voice is just clean and audible. Further, his almost complete ignoring of the cookie monster screamo bullshit that plagues so many of these bands is refreshing. Blay makes you want to learn the words to the songs so you can sing along. Powerful songs like "Sight Of Shore" are masterpieces from the singer. He's just really good.
In the end though, Wovenwar will be judged by the guitarwork, and Nick Hipa delivers masterfully. His playing on songs like "All Rise" is about as good as today's players get; an amalgamation of modern riffing and almost progressive sounding touch and speed that is rarely done this well. He teams perfectly with Phil Sgrosso on rhythm to make powerful music such as "Profane" or "Death Of Rights". And why wouldn't they work together well? They've been creating music as a guitar tandem for years. They just do it better than in the past here. They are kept speeding along by the rhythm section comprised of Jordan Mancino on drums and Josh Gilbert on bass. Both excel and create a killer foundation that Hipa and Sgrosso blast away from.
PITRIFF RATING - 97/100 - As today's metal for the masses goes, WOVENWAR is one of the best releases of the year. Rich in songwriting, overpowered with masterful playing and enhanced by a more complete singer than these guys had previously, Wovenwar doesn't merely pick up the pieces from As I Lay Dying. It improves them on all levels. Bravo to these guys for coming back so strong in the wake of a truly tough set of circumstances.