WAR OF AGES
"Pride of the Wicked"

(Facedown)

01. Guide for the Helpless
02. Rise from the Ashes
03. Strength Within
04. Absence of Fear
05. The Fall of Pride
06. Heart of a Warrior
07. Aftermath
08. Bitter Sweet
09. Silenced Insecurities
10. Stone by Stone

RATING: 7/10

The acts on Christian hardcore/metalcore label Facedown may not be agreeable to every heavy music fan due to its bands' lyrical philosophies, but a good sized chunk of the releases are of decent fare. By the same token, those sick of being constantly clobbered over the head with hardcore and metalcore discs every single week will find very few albums on the label that will drop jaws for originality. On "Pride of the Wicked", Eerie, Pennsylvania's WAR OF AGES can count itself among the label's better metalcore acts. The self-titled debut showed promise with a decidedly metallic lean that includes guitar solos and ironclad riffing. "Pride of the Wicked" picks up where that disc lets off with slightly better songwriting and a masterful grasp of guitar solos and harmonies.

The 10 songs here are nothing that you have not heard before, but the music is better than much of what is found in the deluge of middling metalcore releases. Where the band excels in its ability to write captivating melodic leads. The harmonies throughout are a joy to hear and lend a great deal to the otherwise standard riff-heavy arrangements. Unsurprisingly, breakdowns (and breakdown-esque riffs/rhythms) are found at various points, but are not used to the point of annoyance. "Absence of Fear" is a typical, up-tempo Swede riffing/harmonizing arrangement and represents much of what is heard on the album. Aside from the odd changeup, such as the quiet, clean picking outro during "The Fall of Pride" and a similar section of "Stone by Stone", a basic formula is followed. Fortunately, the group has been able to craft 10 relatively distinct tracks; in other words, it does not feel as though you are listening to the same song 10 times, although it occasionally comes close. A song like "Guide for the Helpless" combines stop-start rhythms, metallic gallops, melodic leads and vocals that alternate between a mid-range, harsh style and semi-clean delivery. Where the act falls down is on the overuse of the now cliché spoken word parts; maybe it's just me, but every time one of those parts hits, it just kills the vibe.

Overall, "Pride of the Wicked" is an album that will entertain fans of metalcore. Whether it will appeal to anyone beyond that group is questionable, but it is clear that the boys are in firm command of their chosen style and do it quite well.

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