A cynical but truthful title rolling out I DECLARE WAR's fifth album, "We Are Violent People by Nature", particularly when backed by a blunt, nihilistic drudge that is, in short, violent.
Since forming in 2005, I DECLARE WAR has seen so many roster shake-ups the founding unit is no longer around. Behind the full-throttle yelping of Jamie Hanks and I DECLARE WAR's muscular riff undulations, "We Are Violent People by Nature" is one of the ugliest albums yet churned out by the band.
For their fans, this means incremental, bowling speed with methodic slowdowns engineered to jack I DECLARE WAR's tendon-snapping intensity. Slower in this album's case means heavier. "We Are Violent People by Nature" exploits every ounce of teeming hatred contained inside the band, projecting it all toward a rabid deathcore audience in search of something to rebound their equally pissed-off yearnings against. Said folks will be easily satiated here.
As big a misnomer as they come, "Quiet" moves out with a slow-moving, noisy cavalcade of chord mass following the song's beckoning guitar intro. "Quiet" nearly comes to a full halt during the breakdown sequence before picking up the pace with gradually increasing tempos, spiking at a couple of grind and shred parts. The song changes courses a few more times along the way, hitting another full drag, complete with fret spelunking by the song's end.
What's very good about I DECLARE WAR is how they stitch their parts together with spotless execution. They're absolute mechanics with their stop-go devices, time signature changes and swelling agitation it's worth sitting through just to study their precision. While there are tons of acts laying down singular low-end reverb strikes and blast beats ad nauseum, I DECLARE WAR layers their crusty triads with higher-pitched guitar lines that either chirrup or they flat-out pierce. This dynamic works just about every time on the album.
Seldom do John Winters and Jacob Hansen hit actual beautiful tones, but with the bottom feeding bass of Gordon McPherson chomping beneath them, the resonating guitar twitters cutting into songs like "Tomb Sleep", "Blurred Vision" and "The Band Man" give these tracks more depth. The calculated creep into the final sections of "Black Heart" allows Winters and Hansen to decorate that which refuses to be festooned. They also manage to level out the gruesome oppression of "Noose" that has enough to pay attention to with the thrash segments and slapped down bridges. Winters and Hansen generate some actual harmony amidst Jamie Hanks' bellowing and Colin Bradford's concussive beat rolls.
There have been plenty of bands over the past number of years doing what I DECLARE WAR does: LUPARA, WHITECHAPEL and JOB FOR A COWBOY, for example. For all of their lineup instabilities, I DECLARE WAR 2014 is nonetheless one of the most sincerely riled acts of their ilk. "We Are Violent People by Nature" isn't titled for mere shock value.