If I learned anything from the pandemic, it’s that you can’t believe everything you read on the internet (or hear on a podcast). Prime example- I love Wage War. In fact, I believe I turned a certain podcast host on to 2017’s Deadweight. I know I’ve taken some flack for excluding 2019’s Pressure from my top 10 list (and admittedly, though 2019 was loaded, Pressure is one of the albums from that year I still listen to most…). That said, I love Wage War and when I heard they were releasing Manic, I was beyond excited. I was somehow lucky enough to get my hands on the new album a little bit early and I can assure you, it won’t be a snub in 2021.
The album kicks off with a frenzy in “Relapse.” The echoing sounds in the introduction give off a manic (pun intended) feel, taking a heavy turn with some almost industrial riffs that really took me off guard. The chorus is catchy while maintaining the intensity, but it’s the breakdown that caused me to stop in my tracks. It’s absolutely brutal, very well done and is a great start to the album. “Teeth” picks up right where the breakdown left off with a crushing wave of stop chords that have chilling, heavy vocals throughout. Another strong chorus with transitional riffs that are so heavy and engaging.
Next up is the titular “Manic.” It’s a very different approach, starting off with a hip hop beat and a few lines in different voices before it absolutely explodes into the chorus. My favorite thing about this track is that the beat and riff are the same throughout, but the distortion and tone change with the tone of the vocals. And again, the breakdown is a thing of beauty.
“High Horse” is the lead single from the album. It has an amazing ice and takes off right from the beginning. The song is heavy as hell, has an anthemic feel to it and gets me pumped up every time I hear it, becoming a playlist mainstay over the past few months. “Circle the Drain” takes a change of pace, being a much more melodic song with some great clean vocals. The chorus picks up with a heavier feel, but still has the clean vocals. It’s catchy and has big appeal and some larger than life moments. The group chants in the chorus and bridge add a huge element here, and the breakdown hits heavy at just the right time.
“Godspeed” has a solid call and response with a heavy riff and vocals. There’s a great harmony with clean vocals in the chorus that come off incredibly crisp. The second verse has clean and heavy vocals layered over each other, instead of the call and response. “Death Roll” is my favorite song from the effort. The track is heavy as hell and the opening riffs have some well placed squeals and a deep riff that reminds me of Pantera. The breakdown steals the show- it’s a powerful war of heavy sound that just keeps exploding into a chant, finally ending with a wicked guitar solo.
“Slow Burn” is another solid track that features more clean vocals but doesn’t sacrifice being a heavier experience. The verses are a bit more subdued, allowing the chorus to intensify. It’s definitely a catchy hook and has a lot of crossover appeal. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this be a single. The bridge pulls back to remind you how heavy this band likes to get. “Never Said Goodbye” strips down all the way within an acoustic guitar and solid clean vocals. The chorus picks up with the full band and a little bit of an edge, but they do a great job building without going the whole way, which really kept me on the edge of my seat. It was a nice transition and added a lot to the album.
“True Colors” comes back in hard and heavy. This track is upbeat and fast-paced. It’s a lot of fun from start to finish, has one of the more memorable chorus lines from the effort and it tends to be the run that’s stuck in my head after I’m done listening to the album. “If Tomorrow Never Comes” closes out t he record in a big way. The riffs that drive this track are nothing short of incredible. The transitions to the chorus are so unique and when the music drops to have a few a capella beats, it grabs me every time. This song is dynamic and possesses a lot of big moments including key changes and time signature changes that grab your attention each time.
This album rocks. It’s heavier than the previous few and has a whole new artistic element that truly takes Wage War to the next level. Make sure you check out Manic when it drops everywhere Friday October 1, 2021 via Fearless Records!