War of Ages - Arise & Conquer
Record Label: Facedown Records
Release Date: July 22 ,2008
War Of Ages is back with their third studio album, Arise & Conquer, and they've released it on Facedown Records (Not including Fire From The Tomb, which was just a re-release of their debut album or the Unite Us All EP).
I'd like to start out by saying that War Of Ages is one the most underrated bands out there, not only in metalcore/hardcore music. Their Christian metalcore/hardcore rivals in terms of talent & technicality are probably August Burns Red and As I Lay Dying. They have some amazing musicianship and talent.
Vocalist Leroy Hamp has always been one of the more below-average screamers out there. Here he has definitely gotten better. His vocals not only sound better, but are full of emotion which you don't hear much in screaming. Also, in the song "Wages Of Sin," there is some very good clean singing. This may make some hardcore fans feel a little alienated when the singing starts since, as far as I know, War Of Ages has never put clean singing into their music.
The instruments on Arise & Conquer don't feel that different from War Of Ages' other albums or even most metalcore bands. If you're a fan of metalcore/hardcore music, then you've probably heard this kind of guitar, drum, and bass playing before. Luckily, what War Of Ages' veteran guitarist Steve Brown and newcomer Branon Bernatowicz lack in originality, they make up for with raw talent. Guitar solos plague this album and insane riffs are present in every track. To back them up, both T.J. Alford on bass and Alex Hamp on drums do above-average jobs.
A part of the reason War Of Ages' fan base might be small are the openly Christian lyrics, which are not as apparent in monsters like Underoath, blessthefall, and As I Lay Dying. Quoting Facedown Record owner Jason Dunn, "War Of Ages is as much ministry as heavy music and that spirit shines throughout the new album." Their lyrics might turn off some of the secular crowd. Even though the lyrics are blatantly Christian, they also touch on some important life lessons that have remotely anything to do with Christianity. Their lyrics reflect the abuse & hardships Leroy and Alex Hamp faced in youth. From "Sleep of Prisoners": "We run from our calling only to get by/ As rain falls from the heavens excuses fall from our mouths/ As floodwaters rise this life is not my fault."
Production has always been on the downside of War Of ages' earlier albums. It has never been bad, but always a bit bland. On Arise & Conquer, As I Lay Dying frontman Tim Lambesis produced the album and the band recorded it in his own personal studio (which has also been used by The Human Abstract, Winds Of Plague, As I Lay Dying, Austrian Death Machine, and Destroy The Runner). His production on this album definitely helped give it the edge and feel it needed.
The overall feel of Arise & Conquer is nothing new, but definitely something you should pick up if your looking for some good hardcore music that doesn't follow the generic metalcore code. It's one the better albums of the year and definitely one of the more underrated albums.