Sound — 8
Tim Lambesis was arrested in mid-2013 in a murder for hire plot to have his wife killed, and soon the issues were compounded by admissions of steroid abuse. Tim Lambesis even went on to admit he had given up his Christian faith, and hinted that the rest of the band had done the same, while they had continued to tour as a Christian metal act in As I Lay Dying. Tim Lambesis pretty quickly alienated the other members of As I Lay Dying, how disbanded and formed Wovenwar with a new vocalist - Shane Blay of Oh, Sleeper. Their debut album contains 15 tracks with a run time of 54 minutes. The first single released for the album was "All Rise" in April, which was followed by a second single, "The Mason" in June. As an immediate change, the vocals are almost completely clean and melodic, which is a huge change from As I Lay Dying. Though there are a lot of musical similarities between the bands, Wovenwar is much more a hard rock band than a metal band, based off of this release.
The album opens with a short instrumental track, "Foreword," which is more of an ambience-creating intro than an actual song. The next track is the lead single, "All Rise," which opens up with some guitar pyrotechnics and some of the heaviest playing on the album. These are the first vocals on the album and they are completely clean. "Death to Rights" is very catchy to my ears and probably my favorite track from the album because of the way it mixes heaviness and melody. "Tempest" has the band playing much more squarely in the hard rock sound than the previous songs on the album, and more clearly defines where the band is going with their sound as Wovenwar. "The Mason" is the second single released from the album, and also a fairly intense track with a lot to like. "Moving Up" is another track that sounds a lot more like modern radio hard rock than metal, but it has the right type of energy to get your blood pumping. "Sight of Shore" makes good use of pummeling drums and relentless riffing with melodic vocals soaring over the top. "Sight of Shore" also has my favorite solo from the album. "Father/Son" is a much more orchestrated track than the rest of the album, opening with drums and acoustic guitar, but slowly building up to a very big and epic track. After building up to a huge track, it closes out with just a voice and an acoustic guitar. "Profane" is a good example of the band trying to walk the line somewhere between metal and hard rock, but with some nice use of gang vocals, though used very sparingly. "Archers" has a lot of tremolo picking, little melodic runs, and creative processing on the vocals. "Ruined Ends" is another more straightforward hard rock track. "Identity" has a fun riff that runs through most of the song - and slower ambient sections - which creates a fairly interesting track, overall. "Matter of Time" reminds me of Coheed & Cambria for some reason - and that will give you a good idea how much the band's sound has changed since disbanding As I Lay Dying and reforming as Wovenwar. "Prophets" opens up with acoustic guitars and is much more laid back than most of the album, though it picks up the pace and some heavy electric guitars and drums come in about a third of the way through the track. "Onward" is a lot like the opening track, "Foreward," as it is more about creating ambience than being an actual song. I thought the album was enjoyable, but fans of As I Lay Dying won't necessarily think so.
Lyrics — 9
Shane Blay has what I think of as a radio-friendly voice. While Shane Blay is very skilled, there isn't anything about his vocals that necessarily stand out. The backing vocals provided by the other band members help to add character to the vocal performance on the album. As a sample of the lyrics, here are some lyrics from the track "Father/Son": "We aren't sons of our father's sins/ we don't inherit iniquities/ we aren't heirs to thrones of greed/ we don't wear the gold they've thieved and schemed/ you don't choose your name/ just what you leave in your wake/ we are born, all of us, innocent/ we don't wear the wounds of a dying man/ no ties no allegiance to majesties/ no veil to blind your reasoning/ no script rehearsed in all you speak/ own your words in the voice you sing/ no cause to fight for buried kings/ let be what legions they've conceived/ no oaths to swear or give repeat/ all words are yours to ink and sing/ you don't choose your name/ just what you leave in your wake."
Overall Impression — 8
I can't really complain about this album, but I'm not sure fans of As I Lay Dying are going to seamlessly convert over - there are some subtle differences in instrumental sound and some pretty big changes in the vocal sound. My favorite track from the album was "Death to Rights," "Profane" and "Father/Son." I didn't really dislike any songs on the album, but I feel like "Foreward" and "Onward" were more filler than actual content. Overall, not a bad effort for a "new" band, and I truly hope they can survive the drama that Tim Lambesis has brought on the rest of the band.