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Warforged - I: Voice

I: Voice
by Liam Easley at 17 April 2019, 2:24 PM

The year is 2017, and I am going to my first Death Metal concert: Summer Slaughter. It was perfect. Two of my favorite bands, DYING FETUS and ORIGIN, were on the roster, I was going with close friends, and it was the day before my 18th birthday. As a Death Metal fan who lives in the Chicago area, WARFORGED is a band that has come across my radar. Back in 2016, I discovered them on Bandcamp and have been tracking their career ever since, and they were to open at Summer Slaughter.

Unfortunately, I arrived late and missed their set, but I made an effort to go to their merch booth and buy a CD and a T-shirt. The CD was a cardboard sleeve of their 2014 EP, “Essence of the Land” including their “Two Demons” single as a bonus track. That single was my favorite song by them, so this made me happy. “Two Demons”, while sharing similarities with their 2014 EP, was still a very different sound for them, and I was excited to hear a full-length of that material.

In late 2018, WARFORGED was signed to The Artisan Era after being unable to release the album independently (from what I heard) and the title “I: Voice” was announced. I was very excited to see this because I had been waiting for this for a couple of years, stuck listening to “Two Demons”, waiting for it to show up on an album. The first single, “We’ve Been Here Before,” dropped in mid-February, and it sounded good. However, it sounded like “Two Demons”. My thought was that the 2015 single would appear on the full-length as a middle track. It would serve as a sort of intermission because of its atmosphere-driven sound. However, this was not the case.

After listening to the first single, it had the same features as “Two Demons”: going from soft, airy acoustics to abrasive, blackened madness in the blink of an eye. I became worried that this was how they wrote now. Where every song halts in the middle of the buildup just to play some neoclassical piece on the piano or acoustic guitar. And I was right. The second single, “Voice,” dropped, and it was a disappointment. First of all, after receiving the promo, there are other songs that would have served as much better singles to promote the album. Second of all, this song is not really a “song” as much as it is an interlude. You know, one of those tracks where it’s more silent than heavy. It did not sound good as a stand-alone track. With an album backing it up, however, it sounds fine.

After listening to the promo and seeing my fears become reality, I realized that WARFORGED must be one of the most original yet most predictable bands in existence. I have never heard a Death Metal band like this. They combine progressive Death Metal with Post-Metal, ambience and classical music. Yet, it is so predictable. Here is how you read this album. If, during a heavy section, there is very fast, blasting buildup, expect the music to stop randomly in the middle of it. All distorted and blasting instruments will immediately halt as the music goes into a classical piece. Now, this classical piece can have one of two endings. First, it can just stop immediately, and the heaviness will come back in a “surprising” way. The second option is that the music will actually build its way back to the heaviness.

We’ve Been Here Before” is one of the only songs on this album that almost doesn’t stick to this formula. The first interlude actually works. The heavy parts stop, but it isn’t interrupting. Also, the acoustic section leads back into the heavy parts of the song. The final product is quite powerful. Outside of the classical moments, the technical parts in the beginning make up one of the greatest moments on this whole record. It’s groovy and delicious. The technical riff-age comes back with “Cellar,” a song that also performs interludes correctly. There is a quite long section that is transitioned into and out of effectively. The final product is massive. The riffs and leads are also on point with this track. The song progresses smoothly and, like the first track, does not restrict itself to the formula that most of this album is written by. This technicality is also seen with “The Color of My Memory”.

As for poorly-executed acoustic sections, “Voice” is a prime example. There is an interlude that has this guy yelling in the background that sounds cool. Then the yelling continues in the heavy section, a songwriting choice that I would not have made. The section then builds up only to abruptly stop for a random acoustic section to play a few notes. After this, the heavy section comes back with the guy still yelling in the background. The acoustic section was 100 percent pointless, and it served absolutely no purpose other than to interrupt. “Willow,” “The Color of My Memory,” “Nightfall Came,” and “Old Friend” are also songs that had random acoustic sections that would have bettered the song if they were never included in the first place. While not every acoustic section in these songs was bad (with the exception of “Willow” because every interlude had at least something wrong with it), they each have a few that were needless and random.

Old Friend,” the longest song on the album, clocks in at over 12 minutes. The intro takes up almost half of this time, and it usually never leads anywhere. It starts out with atmosphere, stops, goes into acoustic guitar with faint screaming, stops again, goes into choppy piano that stops after it starts to pick up. Then it goes into some more piano after stopping again. It’s like they took all of the acoustic parts they didn’t ever use and threw them right here. By the time the song starts, there are only six and a half minutes left, and the majority of that intro was completely pointless. Nevertheless, the opening riffs are, of course, epic. However, these riffs are short-lived. They stop all of a sudden… for some random, clean, jazzy guitar. “The Color of My Memory” is no better as it features two atmospheric breaks that completely interrupt the music, once even putting a pause on the vocals.

The songwriting on this album is not the best. “Two Demons” was the song they chose to fit all of these tracks to. Like “Two Demons,” there were multiple acoustic sections in each song, some of which were not transitioned into or out of whatsoever. Also like the 2015 single, none of the riffs repeat – ever. There are some killer riffs, but you only hear them played a couple times back-to-back within the one hour and 13 minutes of this album’s run-time. The songwriting on this album is something I have never heard before, yet it is so predictable. This is probably because it is so unique that I wouldn’t expect anything more. WARFORGED needs to stop trying to scare their listeners by halting every other acoustic part with a wall of blackened sound and try to expand upon it. What else can they do with this technique other than the same couple of things again and again? They need to answer this question.

While there are some outstanding and even breathtaking moments on this album, they are overshadowed by the poor songwriting decisions made throughout. Honestly, this is a good album to put on in the background while you work on something. It has a creative spark to it that gets me going. Also, it’s a very long album, so you don’t have to worry about changing the music anytime soon. “Two Demons” is a fantastic song, but what went on in that song was unique to it. An album full of “Two Demons” clones makes it less unique and more formulaic. I expect a second album, as this one is called “I: Voice”. Hopefully on “II: ____” the songwriting will be more refined because, after all, this album shows a ton of potential. They just need to cool it with those acoustic sections.

Songwriting: 4
Originality: 10
Memorability: 8
Production: 10

3 Star Rating

1. We’ve Been Here Before
2. Beneath the Forest Floor
3. Cellar
4. Nightfall Came
5. Voice
6. Eat Them While They Sleep
7. Willow
8. Old Friend
9. The Color of My Memory
Jason Nitts – Drums
Adrian Perez – Vocals, Keyboards, Samples
Alex Damske – Bass
Jace Kiburz – Guitars
Max Damske - Guitars
Record Label: The Artisan Era


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Edited 27 May 2020

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