‘Low’ is a guide on how to write generic metalcore.
After a teaser on their social media earlier this week, Floridian metalcore outfit Wage War just dropped a new track, entitled ‘Low‘. I’m going to quickly digress for a second, but I wanted to show you the first line of the band’s Facebook story: “If you think that you’ve already heard it all when it comes to heavy music, you just haven’t heard Wage War“. That kind of PR-band-bio-speak is hilarious because everyone has heard this style of heavy music before. Both from past Wage War music and plenty of other bands in the scene too. And that goes double for ‘Low‘. Seriously, it’s like a blueprint from one of those Jared Dines or Nik Nocturnal videos where they show you how to write metalcore.
What I’m about to say is the most often trotted out opinion anyone can have on this genre, yet it keeps coming up because it rarely stops being true. And that’s that so much metalcore music of this ilk sounds so eerily similar over multiple bands and releases. Shocker, I know. And ‘Low‘ isn’t bad or low-tier (sorry, couldn’t resist), it’s just super average. Which is the norm for bands like Wage War. With a dropped riff that heavily evokes the melody and rhythm from the approach of recent Architects material – namely ‘A Match Made In Heaven‘ and ‘Doomsday‘, and even having hints of Northlane’s ‘Intuition‘ – and with your usual metalcore song structure, it’s just more Wage War. Another heavy dosage from the same laneway the band were cruising down on 2015’s ‘Blueprints‘ and 2017’s ‘Deadweight‘. Huh, it’s almost like it’s generic or something.
Basically, there’s no progression. The breakdowns, “bleughs”, riffs and clean vocal-driven choruses from guitarist/clean singer Cody Quistad were all about as expected as the sun rising each morning. That being said, those choruses are probably some of the bigger refrains Cody’s delivered in Wage War yet. Though, I’m not sure if bigger necessarily equals better in this case. Besides, it all sounds like any other forcefully catchy A Day To Remember chorus. Which was also to be expected given that ADTR’s Jeremy McKinnon produced this track (and most likely their next record too).
The song’s vocal hook – re-used later on before the breakdown hits because of course it was – lands in the aggressive, screamed manner of: “don’t keep on telling me that I’m going to pull through when you don’t know low like I do“. Rolls off the tongue nicely, at least. With that being said, frontman Briton Bond’s lyrics here only ever amount to: “You could not possibly know my struggle”. Which is odd, as countless Wage War fans – from the many vocal followers you’ll see online to the ones I’ve personally spoken with – relate strongly with his lyrics. They seem to understand, they “get it”. Yet this song has a weird bitterness to it, implying that others – whether friends, family, fans or online strangers – that support and encourage the frontman to pull through during his dark times should shut their mouths because they (maybe) haven’t experienced his own personal mental health struggle. That’s not only presumptuous but oddly confrontational. Simultaneously acting like he’s a lone-wolf that must silently battle alone but is also pleading for help.
Yet maybe that’s the intended duality of ‘Low‘? Perhaps that’s the emotional focal point; this idea of “Who will save me when I can’t save myself?“. Even if that’s the case, that doesn’t suddenly make this track great. Not when a supposedly inspiring and positive message is so heavily fumbled with offensively mediocre sounds like this.
‘Low‘ is absolutely a song for the kind of people who rank metalcore above ALL other genres, the weirdos. It’s for the kinds of people who label each new record from a big band of this style as being AOTY, regardless of the actual quality and often before said thing even releases. And look, if that’s you, more power to ya, honestly. Truly! I sincerely hope you dig it if you’re indeed into it, and that what Briton and Wage War discuss in terms of mental health offers you some kind of solace. But while it’s not for me, let’s not all shit the bed, yeah? Just call a spade what it is: a spade.
Expect Wage War’s third LP to drop sometime later this year via Fearless Records. It’ll no doubt sound a lot like this new song and do quite well for the band moving forward.