Honor Is Dead (Metal Blade)
By Mike Delano
Wovenwar, the band formed from the ashes of As I Lay Dying, really comes into their own on their second album Honor Is Dead. Whereas their self-titled debut album was strong but at times sprawling, the 11 songs here are more concise and diverse, and more interesting as a result. Alternating between the paint-peeling intensity of Norma Jean and the more adventurous sounds of modern-day Deftones, Wovenwar sounds unshackled here, free to create a melodic metalcore sound that feels natural rather than predictably soft/heavy, good cop/bad cop. “Compass” is a mid-album, mid-paced electronic ballad preceded by and followed by guitar-heavy scorchers, but it fits right in because the overall vibe of Honor Is Dead is focused on melody and songcraft rather than adherence to any single style. That approach means the songs can travel in any number of fascinating directions, from the sci-fi freak-out punctuations of “Stones Thrown” to simply a meat-and-potatoes metal beatdown like “Bloodletter.” The touchstone throughout is the band’s penchant for anthemic choruses, which never fail to inspire, from the cry of independence in the title track to the timely plea for peace in “Lines in the Sand.” The album’s 39 minutes fly right by and, best of all, it never sounds like these guys are running out of ideas. They’re grabbing the future by the throat, and it’s fun to be along for the ride.