If there’s a band that has perfected the battle cry, it’s War of Ages. With consistently solid music and an unadorned devotion to their faith, the band’s latest release, Void, embraces their cry for a world to open their eyes. Without fail, War of Ages delivers heavy, enormous sonic ideas with every new release. From beginning to end, the record’s energy never wavers and its trajectory is clear; WOA has been an anchor in Christian metal since its inception in 2002, and the band serves as a veteran force on the Facedown Records roster. Now, nearly 20 years later, the band responds to their 2017 release, Alpha, with another brick in their monumental wall.
Musically, the album is consistent with their past work with the traditional combination of melody and rhythm, not the least of which comes from vocalist Leroy Hamp’s diverse performances from song to song. There are vocal textures reminiscent of loose rap-rock or gritty spoken word, but pure melodies still fly over the smooth and constantly moving guitar lines and screams still rip through the work, proving the War of Ages listeners have grown to know and love is still very much alive.
Each song is deliberately a declaration, from the chants in the opening track, “The Watchers,” to the cries in “Void”: “Living water flowing from my soul / The future of my heart is with you” and “You will never fail us / Out from darkness.” The call-and-response style strewn throughout is similar to that of Bring Me The Horizon’s defining album, Sempiternal, and the piano/synth sidebars create moments of contemplation that have been forged through the new sounds of metalcore giants like Silent Planet. There’s even a prog vibe (think Periphery) woven throughout the melodic composition of the guitar solo in “Blood of the Earth.”
The most impressive element of Void, however, is how absolutely natural and confident this band is in its delivery.
While the band displays a breadth of immense technical skill – between brutal breakdowns like in “Sulphur and Salt,” the tasteful bass lines in “Jezebel,” ambient textures in “Miles Apart” – the album played it safe with underdeveloped intros and uniform time signatures. But fans do get a taste of War of Ages’ newest face, drummer Kaleb Luebchow. Void succeeds and showcases Luebchow’s capacity, range, and ability to play whatever the song needs. Blast beats? See track three. Insane subdivisions? See track six. Developing those unique flavors that start most of the tracks and deviating from safe, 4/4 grooves may or may not have changed the overarching feel of the record but could certainly offer a deeper understanding of the true skill of the band’s chops.
Regardless, Void is exactly what you would expect from a well-articulated and well-executed metal record. There are moments of ruthless aggression, moments of anthemic singing, and moments where you just close your eyes and bang your head. The most impressive element of Void, however, is how absolutely natural and confident this band is in its delivery. War of Ages creates with purpose, and, true to that purpose, this record leaves fans with a battle that’s clear and a cry that’s loud.