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Those of you who keep abreast of metal news will be fully aware of Tim Lambesis' recent incarceration. For those who are not, in brief, the As I Lay Dying frontman attempted to hire a hitman to kill his estranged wife last year. Said 'hitman' was actually an undercover detective so it's fair to say his guilt was unmitigated; caught, as he was, bang to rights. Following Lambesis' foolish felony, the band's remaining members swiftly opted not to continue with what has inevitably become a tarnished band and started to work on new music which has now surfaced, a year later, under the guise of Wovenwar. Recruiting talented vocalist Shane Blay from Oh, Sleeper, they've been able to broaden the parameters of their sonic palette through his wider, more expressive range than Lambesis so, effectively, Wovenwar is a fresh start. It's not simply As I Lay Dying re-branded with a new frontman. This has so much more depth and diversity to be regarded as such.

What's most impressive is the short time period within which guitarists Nick Hipa and Phil Sgrosso, bassist Josh Gilbert, and drummer Jordan Mancino, alongside Blay, have musically reinvented themselves. 15 tracks of reinvention, no less. It's almost as if they suffered some sort of repressed creativity within the context of writing music for AILD, because their combined talents literally flourish here. Whereas AILD were predominantly exercising their songcraft within metalcore boundaries (albeit with Gothenburg style, melo-death flavours), Wovenwar's eponymously titled debut should be regarded, more simply, as a modern metal record. I say "simply" but they've actually drawn from a whole gamut of metal subgenres, and blended these into a dynamic, contemporary sounding whole.

Idioms of the four former AILD musicians are discernible throughout, but this is an album all about progression. They're evidently moving forward both emotionally and musically - the two of which are mutually dependent anyway - and it's all there to hear in their new music, which is an exhilarating blast of disciplined rock/metal diversity. Part of that exhilaration is derived from songs' melodic impetus and, remarkably, the album remains melodically engaging throughout the fifteen tracks (albeit the album's opener and closer act as instrumental bookends). In this sense, it has that instant accessibility appeal, although I predict such an effect will not be one of ephemera. Far from it, in fact; songs have a lot of sonic depth through their compositional mastery. And Blay's vocals are an integral part of the album's success - his wide ranging clean voice (and occasional growls) add many melodic twists and turns to each piece. Overall, a fantastic debut.
Metal Blade
Review by Mark Holmes
5th August 2014
1) Foreword; 2) All Rise
3) Death to Rights; 4) Tempest
5) The Mason; 6) Moving Up
7) Sight of Shore; 8) Father/Son
9) Profane; 10) Archers
11) Ruined Ends; 12) Identity
13) Matter of Time; 14) Prophets
15) Onward
"It's not simply As I Lay Dying re-branded with a new frontman. This has so much more depth and diversity..."