Wage War Manic Review: Track-By-Track Breakdown

Wage War are back baby! After the release of their more radio friendly record “Pressure” fans were sure the Wage War of the past has moved on from the sound established in “Blueprints” and “Deadweight”. This did not end up being the case though. Right out the gates the band debuted the heavy single “High Horse” and kept the energy going ever since. The release of “Pressure” wasn’t in vein though. The band took everything they learned from the production of that record and applied it to their roots. “Manic” is a fusion of the old and new Wage War, but what does this mean for the records quality? Let’s jump on in and break it down in this Wage War Manic track-by-track album review.

FFO: Architects, Of Mice & Men, Spiritbox, Memphis May Fire, Crown The Empire

Listen to: Manic, Relapse, Godspeed, Death Roll, Teeth

Wage War is:

Briton Bond – vocals, additional guitars

Cody Quistad – clean vocals, rhythm guitar

Seth Blake – lead guitar

Chris Gaylord – bass, backing vocals

Stephen Kluesener – drums

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Manic Track-By-Track Review

Relapse

Relapse – Wage War

Wage War skip the traditional album introduction track and just go straight into the style of the over all record. “Relapse” is a fast and riff heavy track with plenty of soft sang melodic moments as well. This is one of the band’s most balanced tracks. You really get it all with this one. I would compare the track to “Low” and “Who I Am”. These tracks were two of the heavier singles from “Pressure”. The difference is that Relapse isn’t even one of the heavier tracks on the record. This track is a testament to everything Wage War achieve with this album. They have found their sound and they sound great doing it.

I would consider “Relapse” – despite not being a single – as one of the band’s new staple tracks. This would probably be one of the first tracks I would show a new listener. The song contains anything and everything expected from a traditional Wage War track. There are heavier tracks on “Manic”, there are catchier songs, and there are more experimental songs. However, when it comes to the band delivering a perfectly balanced track, it doesn’t get much better than this. The new track “Teeth” fits this description as well.

You can check out my initial reaction to the track here.

Teeth

Teeth – Wage War

“Teeth” is another song where Wage War that gets it just right. A perfectly balanced track, and my favorite of the initial three singles the band released (“High Horse” is a banger too of course!). The song is heavy, thrashy, bouncy, and dark. With an eerily whispered intro – similar to the fan-favorite “Stitch” from the band’s second album “Deadweight” – fans can expect an absolute banger right off the bat. The track then explodes with a bouncy nu-metal/metalcore hybrid (or nucore if you will) riff that will absolute go off in a live setting. To add to the nu-metal vibes, vocalist Briton Bond pulls off his best “Disturbed growl” (from the nu-metal anthem “Down With The Sickness”).

“Teeth” really is one hell of a balanced track. Like “Relapse” before it, the track is a perfect mix of everything one could want from Wage War. The band took the best aspects from the previous singles off “Pressure” and “Deadweight” and proved they not only can still do it, but do it better than ever. I find the single to be another great track for new fans, as this is a straight forward Wage War song that gives you a great idea about the general sound of the band. The next track though defies ever single expectation and standard set from these last two tracks.

You can check out my initial reaction to the single here.

Manic

Manic – Wage War

The title track “Manic” is the perfect example of what modern metal sounds like in the 20’s. By fusing the latest sounds in popular culture with their own iconic sound, Wage War offer up one of the freshest tracks I have heard in awhile. The track starts off sounding like a new Post Malone song. It’s seriously impressive. I didn’t know Briton was capable of such a catchy rap sound. The track slowly becomes darker in tone as Briton switches from his best Post Malone impression to his best Corpse impression. It is clear what they were trying to accomplish with the track, and they succeed.

The track seems to take influence from the latest material from Ghostmane, as the chorus is full of industrial sounding screams backed by bouncy nu-metal riffs. A year ago I never thought I would be adding a Wage War track to my party playlist, yet here we are! I applaud the band for taking such a risk and experimenting like this. I must say that they truly nailed it here. If this is where modern metal is heading, color me excited!

You can check out my initial reaction to the music video here.

High Horse

High Horse – Wage War

The first single “High Horse” immediately had eyes back on the band. The heavy track never settles down, and fans (including myself) were hungry for more. It seemed like Wage War was back full throttle, but only time would prove that hypothesis correct. I wondered if the single was just the “shut up we can still be heavy” track or not. The lyrics suggested this to me as well. However as we now know, the full record ended up containing a healthy dose of heavy. 

The track is thrashy, heavy, and it never lets up. “High Horse” sounds like a modern metalcore take on the Slipknot sound of old. The onslaught of a song is headbang worthy from start to finish. The song doesn’t even have a clean chorus. However, despite this the song does have a catchy chorus that is screamed by Briton. This is similar to the nu-metal inspired “Stitch” from their “Deadweight” record. I personally love tracks that somehow sound catchy despite having a screamed chorus. This is heavy song writing at some of its best. I had doubts that there would even be a heavier song on the record. This however isn’t the case… more on this soon.

Circle The Drain

Circle The Drain – Wage War

Next up is the third – and easily the safest – single from the record. “Circle The Drain” is the most similar track to anything that can be found on the band’s controversial last record “Pressure”. However, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The problem with the last album wasn’t that their were melodic and accessible rock tracks; the issue was that the majority of the album was this way. Additionally, singles “Low” and “Who I Am” featured heavy riffs and crushing screams in addition to melodic choruses. This trend did not continue throughout most of the album. Some fans (including myself) set standards to high, and imagined a different record entirely from what we ended up hearing.

On the current album, “Circle The Drain” works much better. The song is finding a home on many Spotify Playlists, which is sure to introduce Wage War to many new listeners. Fortunately, due to the limited appearance of songs similar to this accessible sound, the band are able to retain their die-hard fanbase as well. The song isn’t my favorite on the record, but it is easy to admire its existence. The song is catchy and it a great palate cleanser after the previous thrashy track. Also, Cody Quistad sounds great here. Limiting his role in the band would be unwise. There is room for every member of Wage War to shine on “Manic”.

You can check out my initial reaction to the single here.

Godspeed

Godspeed – Wage War

“Godspeed” is similar to “Circle The Drain” and continues the mood set by the song. However, in my opinion, the current track does everything the previous one does, but better. The song opens with a robotic voice saying the track’s title – similar to “Darkbloom” by We Came As Romans” before the introduction riff is unleashed and set to guide the listener through the first verse. This is where “Godspeed” immediately shows off how well-balanced of a track it is. Briton puts on his best “scream-sing” voice, fusing his vocal styles into something heavy yet catchy at the same time. Accessible yet energetic all at once.

The praise doesn’t end there though. The chorus is honestly incredible. This chorus has been stuck in my head since the album released. Cody belts out one of the catchiest choruses in the band’s whole discography and Briton helps finish off the chorus with some harsher (but equally solid) vocals. This leads into a short but sweet breakdown that is sure to make “Godspeed” not just an accessible rock hit, but a fan-favorite Wage War track altogether. This is the band at their most balanced, and this is exactly what the band needed more of. However, the band is smart and knows when to switch it up, which they definitely do on the next track.

Death Roll

Death Roll – Wage War

If you somehow still weren’t convinced that Wage War are back with the heavy shit, “Death Roll” will definitely help you make up your mind. The track is one of the most belligerent and ruthless tracks of the year. When the band released “High Horse” as the first single, I was confident that it would be the heaviest track on the record. That ended up not being the case at all. “Death Roll” is without a doubt the heaviest song from the album, and one of the band’s heaviest songs ever.

The track is disgusting in the best way possible. Immediately from the start, crushing and low riffs bombard the listener as high-pitch harmonics help set the tone of the track. The tone is a heavy anthem that sounds like it preludes a war (Wage War!?). Briton delivers one of the best heavy vocal performances of the year on this track by switching between low – chant like – growls and thrashy – quickly delivered – screams . This is the band at their new heavy peak. Throw in a brooding guitar solo and one of the nastiest breakdowns of 2021, and what you have left is a new fan-favorite Wage War track. I can’t wait to hear this one pop off in a live setting. I am confident that the mosh pits will be abundant when Death Roll is performed.

You can check out my initial reaction to the heavy banger here.

Slow Burn

Slow Burn – Wage War

If you liked the track “Godspeed”, you’re in luck here! “Slow Burn” is another well-balanced track that will leave most fans satisfied. The song starts off with an intriguing riff before mellowing down to a soft and melodic verse. Don’t worry though, the song is far from boring, so stick around! I can’t tell if it is Briton or Cody singing the beginning of the verse, but it sounds great! I want to say it is Briton, as the voice has some grit to it. As the drums kick in with an addicting groove, the vocals gain some punch as well. The energy picks up and Briton delivers a “Beartooth-esque” verse that kills. Both vocalists sound great here, and it proves they can both co-exist well even on a track with mostly singing.

This song would be perfect for radio metalcore, and I am surprised it isn’t a single. “Slow Burn” is another accessible track ready for the airwaves. It is safe to say that Wage War have figured out how to make catchy tracks that don’t alienate their dedicated fanbase. I can’t forget the breakdown! After the second chorus a massive breakdown abruptly hits. Seriously, there is no warning! I love it because it breaks up the second and third chorus seamlessly. Now that I think of it, this track reminds me of the “Homesick” era of A Day To Remember. It is catchy and has a random – but fitting – breakdown. It is no surprise if you know that ADTR frontman Jeremy McKinnon produces many of the band’s tracks.

Never Said Goodbye

Never Said Goodbye – Wage War

After countless heavy bangers, Wage War take it down a notch for a more emotional track. “Never Said Goodbye” is a memorial type track that tugs on the heartstrings. At first I wasn’t too impressed by the track, but I find the chorus stuck in my head more than anything else I’ve heard recently. There is a lot to admire about the track. Cody’s vocals throughout the track are incredibly solid, and the song writing is strong. The chorus sounds like it could be in a movie, which is a testament to the high-quality song writing the band and producers possess. Occasionally within the track, Briton lends his vocals in support or Cody’s lead vocals and it sounds great. Their voice mixes well and it adds some grit to the track (especially in the final chorus). The instrumentals for the track are also great. While being mostly acoustic, it packs a punch. I love acoustic music – just usually not by heavier bands – and I feel confident in saying that Wage War pull it off here.

Overall the track is a great palate cleanser and I admire the band for not shying away from creating what they want to create. They could have played it safe and released 11 straight-to-your-face metalcore tracks, but that wouldn’t be Wage War. Despite their threatening band name, they like to test their writing chops and go out of their comfort zone frequently. While isn’t one of my favorite tracks from the record, I still admire it a great amount. This track is just further proof that the band have evolved passed anything they have attempted before. Don’t worry though, if you are just here for the heavy bangers, the next track is for you.

True Colors

True Colors – Wage War

“Manic” is full of tracks like this, yet despite the familiarity I am still hungry for more. Like the other well-balanced tracks before it, “True Colors” is energetic and vocally diverse. I can see this track becoming a huge fan favorite (have I said this about most songs on this album?). You have singing from both Briton and Cody, yet there is still tons of room left for brutal and aggressive moments from Briton as well. This track is similar to “Slow Burn”, but much heavier. I consider the track a bridge between accessible Wage War, and those slowly easing into the band’s heavier side. In other words, the track is well-balanced, but teetering more towards the heavy end of the Wage War spectrum.

The chorus flows well and fits the tone of the song. This track isn’t campy in the slightest. The second verse in particular is appealing to me, as it is even heavier than the first verse. This progression allows the track to stay fresh and kick up the energy even further. This progression continues after the second chorus as well. Like the comparable track “Slow Burn”, after the second chorus the riffage prepares for a breakdown that is destined to satisfy fans. After a short-and-sweet build up, the breakdown explodes and it does not disappoint (there is even a blegh!). “True Colors” in no way reinvents the wheel, but it never needed to. The band took everything that makes them great and delivered a track that defines exactly what makes them who they are. While this track doesn’t feel like a penultimate track either, the final track on the album definitely feels like an end of a record.

If Tomorrow Never Comes

If Tomorrow Never Comes – Wage War

Something I admire is when the final track on an album sounds like a closing track, and Wage War do not disappoint me here. “If Tomorrow Never Comes” is a climatic finish that sounds exactly how it should. I even predicted that this was the closing track of the album in my reaction video for the track. I listened to songs as requested by readers, so I was unaware of the song’s placement on the album. Why I enjoy this so much, is that this “climatic finish” feel from the song differentiates it drastically from any other song on the album. If the song didn’t have this finale like style in both sound and writing, it could have fallen too similar to other mid-level tracks.

“If Tomorrow Never Comes” is a well-balanced track with plenty of screams but also a huge atmosphere with the cleans and choir-filled bridge. The beginning of the track is pretty brutal though, I had no idea the track wasn’t going to be a through-and-through heavy banger (however, it didn’t need to be one anyways). The chorus is short-and-sweet and brings the heaviness back as quick as it initially came. The track has a breakdown before even the two-minute mark which allows plenty of time to close out the track in a fitting away. The breakdown is not filler by any means though. Briton growls out “if I’m honest we got what we deserved” with an impressive vocal delivery before the riffs takes us to the second chorus.

As mentioned previously, the track then mellows into a closing somberness that just screams “conclusion”. A choir joins Cody as he softly sings until a new rendition of the bridge explodes. Cody belts out emotionally while Briton performs some backing screams. The track slowly comes to an end leaving a feeling of closure. “Manic” may be over, but Wage War have found their identity, and I am left feeling that only good things are to come next for the band.

Check out my initial reaction to this climatic closing track here.

Closing Thoughts:

“Manic” is the greatest surprise of 2021 for me. Not only did I not suspect that Wage War would release an album in 2021, but I had no idea the band would have such a triumphant comeback. It isn’t just the heavy sound of the album that has me excited for the future of the band, but the clear indication that Wage War have truly found themselves within this record. A sense of found identity is what I gather from the record. “Manic” has all of the excellently performed heavy moments from the band’s first two records all while retaining the experimentation and accessibility of the band’s previous record.

Combining these previously separated identities into a perfect mix I can only imagine appeases most fans is a testament to talent of the band. I hope the band is as happy with the record as I am, because this album is something to be proud of. “Manic” may just end up being my favorite album of 2021.

Final Verdict: 10/10 Shells

Metal Shell Reacts To Wage War | Manic

Want to see what I thought about the track in real-time? I recorded my initial reaction to many of the tracks including the heavy fan-favorite “Death Roll”. Please check out the video below to see how this heavy banger blew me away.

Metal Shell Reacts to Wage War | Death Roll

Manic CD And Vinyl

If you enjoy physical albums as much as I do, follow the link below and pick yourself up a copy of Manic! Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. However, I will never recommend a product or service I don’t have 100% faith in. Additionally, you can find a link to the MP3 purchase if you prefer to support music that way. Happy listening!

Need More Wage War In Your Life?

Need more Wage War in your life? I recommend you check out our official modern metal playlist. The Spotify playlist features several of the latest tracks by Wage War, as well as plenty of other highly recommended modern bangers! Check it out down below and be sure to follow the playlist if you like what you hear. I update it weekly, so you won’t miss a thing!

What did you think about this Wage War Manic album review? Let us know down in the comments.