When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. Everybody knows that old adage about making the best of a bad situation. It is an adage that the members of Wage War followed (like so many other musical acts) last year when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the band off the road. The band made the most of the situation and crafted its latest album (its fourth), Manic. Scheduled for release Friday through Fearless Records, the 57-minute album is a powerful presentation from beginning to end. That is thanks to its musical and lyrical content alike, as its current singles – Teeth,’ ‘Circle The Drain,’ and ‘High Horse’ – have shown. They are just a sampling of what makes the album successful. Also of note in this record is the late entry, ‘Never Said Goodbye.’ This song will be examined shortly. ‘Death Roll,’ another track that comes in the record’s second half, is also of note. It will be examined a little later. ‘Manic,’ the album’s title track, is yet another interesting addition to the presentation and will also be discussed later. All three songs do just as much as the album’s current singles to show why Manic is such a strong new offering from Wage War. When all of these songs are considered along with the album’s other songs, the overall presentation makes Manic one more of the best of this year’s top new hard rock and metal albums.
Wage War’s forthcoming album, Manic, is another strong new offering from the metalcore band, which continues to cement its place within that community and the bigger hard rock and metal community. The album proves successful through its combined musical and lyrical content. Its current singles have done well to support the noted statements, and they are just a snapshot of what makes the record engaging and entertaining. ‘Never Said Goodbye’ is another song that shows the album’s strength. The song is the album’s only reserved composition in terms of its musical arrangement. The subdued, contemplative stylistic approach and sound in the song’s verses alongside the more fiery choruses makes for a juxtaposition and contrast that stands out starkly from the rest of the record’s works. That is not a bad thing, either. Though, in the bigger picture of the record’s sequencing, it might have done better if it had been made the record’s midpoint, so as to break up the record’s overall mood. That is a matter for another time, though. The control in the vocals and instrumentation, and the production therein gives this arrangement a distinct emocore type presentation that still manages to immerse listeners in its body and keep them engaged.
The musical side of ‘Never Said Goodbye’ goes a long way to ward making the song stand out in the album’s bigger picture. When it pairs with the song’s lyrical theme its own strength increases even more. That is because of the matter addressed in the lyrical content here. The lyrical content in question focuses on someone mourning an individual who is close to him/her. This is made relatively clear right from the song’s lead verse and chorus, which state, “Nothing could prepare me for that call/Dropped to my knees/Threw my phone against the wall/Said you were gone/And I didn’t believe it/This isn’t real/I just gotta be dreaming/It’s never fair/You were taken away too soon/Feels like a knife in the heart/An open wound/Won’t ever heal/’Cause I’m tryin’ to…/I’m in a world where you’re not in existence/I know you/I know we never know it’s time/But I don’t understand what’s on the other side/I know you/I know it’s just part of life/But I’m still askin’ why/Why I never say what I meant to/All those things I wanted to tell you/I know you’re home now/In a better place/But I’m still searching for the words to say/Iwsh it wasn’t the last time/’Cause I never said goodbye.” The eulogy of sorts continues in the song’s second verse, which states, “Hard to think that you’re never coming home/Now you rest in a field beneath this stone/I find peace in the silence around me/And in the calm I can feel you surround me/I don’t think that I’ll ever understand/One day we’re here/Then we fall like grains of sand/Do we wade in the pain that we live in/Or make the most of the time that we’re given?” This is a pretty clear statement. It is not necessarily anything new to the musical universe. Lots of songs such as this have been crafted through the modern history of music, but it is still just as welcome in this case as any other. Whether this is something autobiographical from any of the band members, the fact stands that this is still a song that will prove therapeutic for so many listeners just as much for the lyrical content as for the musical arrangement. The whole of that content makes the song overall such a unique addition to the album and just one example of what makes the record successful. ‘Death Roll,’ another entry in the album’s second half, is another example of the album’s strength.
‘Death Roll’ is the polar opposite of ‘Never Said Goodbye’ in terms of its musical arrangement. This three-minute-plus song’s arrangement is more akin to works from Slipknot (just like ‘High Horse’) than maybe more emotional emocore bands. At the same time that it can be compared to works from Slipknot, it can also be compared to works from the likes of Unearth. The intensity in its sound and stylistic approach is enough in itself to keep listeners engaged and entertained. What’s more, the screams of vocalist Briton Bond here are just as powerful in this case as those of Corey Taylor and any other similar vocalist. His work and that of his band mates makes the overall arrangement that much stronger. The fire in the song’s musical arrangement pairs with the song’s equally intense lyrical content to make the overall song even more powerful.
The lyrical content featured in this song comes across as a defiant stand against those who seem to live just to make others miserable. This is inferred as Bond screams in the song’s lead verse and chorus, “Terrified/In darkness/Another victim in its sight/So cold/So heartless/A hunger never satisfied/Eyes of death/Mouth of hell/This wretched swamp/The hate that we hide/Comes up from the depths/We gave you an inch/But you went for the neck/Take what you want/Prey on the weak/We are the broken/We are the beast/Hunters of all/Swallow you whole/Taking you down in a death roll.” Some of the lyrics here are difficult to decipher sans lyrics to reference. The song’s second verse adds even more to the noted inference as Bond screams, “Condemned from birth/Underneath the dying sun/There can be no future here/When your instinct’s eat the young/Hand in hand through the wasteland/We wave our final goodbye/Kill ’em all til there’s nothing left/Cold blooded ‘til the last breath.” From there the band returns to the chorus, which makes the statement about taking down that not so good person. Considering the anger and fire in these lyrics, they will connect with listeners in their own way. When these lyrics are considered in whole, the overall message and fire in the song’s musical energy collectively makes this song stand out even more as another important addition to the album. It is just one more of the most notable of the album’s entries, too. ‘Manic,’ the album’s title track, is another notable addition to the album.
In the case of ‘Manic,’ it stands out in part because its musical arrangement is so much unlike that of the rest of the album’s entries. In this case, the use of the electronics alongside the rapping and metal immediately lends itself to comparison to works from Hed (p.e.). Guitarist Cody Quistad was even cited as saying the song is “my favorite Wage War song ever…It lends itself to a manic headspace, summing up the album.” Quistad is right. The energy and stylistic approach here is manic in its own right, and it does just as well to help translate the emotion in the song’s lyrical theme. The theme in question in fact does take on the topic of what a person going through so many emotions feels.
The noted, familiar theme is expressed well here right from the song’s lead verse, which states, “Fear hits like a drug in the veins/Hard to stop like a runaway train/Look around but there’s nobody to blame/Oh, what a shame/Spent nights just staring at the wall/Pay no mind to the demons in the hall/Yeah I’m numb/I don’t feel nothing at all/Braced for the fall/Try to calm myself down/But I feel the panic/Is it all up in my head/Am I going manic?” Again, some of the lyrics are tough to decipher sans lyrics to reference, but enough can be understood to the end that the noted message is clear. The song’s second verse builds on the message, stating, “It’s a war/But I’m never on attack/Holding on, but I’m slipping through the crack/Don’t wanna be another body on the stack/I’m never coming back/Spending nights just staring at the wall/Pay no mind to the demons in the hall” Again here we have that theme of mental health, which deserves the fullest seriousness. That is especially in the current era as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The statement later in the song that, “I don’t wanna die” shows just how serious someone going through mania (or any major mental health concern) feels and thinks. Hopefully this familiar and fully accessible presentation will help anyone who is battling a mental health concern fight that battle and win every day. Such lyrical and musical content collectively shows once more, the power of Wage War’s latest album. That is even more the case when the song is considered with the other songs examined here, the album’s current singles, and the rest of the record’s songs. The whole comes together to make the album in whole a powerful new offering from Wage War that is among the best of this year’s new hard rock and metal albums.
Wage War’s forthcoming album, Manic, is a successful new offering from the metalcore band. It continues to cement the band’s place in the metal core and bigger metal and hard rock communities. That is proven through the album’s musical and lyrical content. The musical content shows a certain range of diversity. That alone is sure to engage and entertain audiences. The lyrical themes that accompany the record’s musical arrangements is just as accessible as the musical arrangements. All three of the songs examined here make that clear, as do the singles that the album has already produced. When all of this content is considered along with the rest of the album’s songs, the whole makes Manic one of the best of this year’s new hard rock and metal albums.
Manic is scheduled for release Friday through Fearless Records. More information on the album is available along with all of the band’s latest news at: