Written by: Bane Ov Silence
The Artisan Era is a label that has put out some of the best tech death releases of the past three years. Bands such as Equipoise, Mordant Rapture, and Aethereus have established themselves as some of the most interesting and talented groups in extreme metal today. That is why I had very high expectations for this Warforged release, particularly since the band has been working on this record for the past five years.
Sadly, when the first single came out, "We’ve Been Here Before," I realized that the album was probably going to be a disappointment. While the song has its high points, particularly the solo that reminds me of something Inferi would have written for Path of Apotheosis, it is mostly disappointing and forgettable. The piano interlude halfway through the song was unnecessary and broke all the song’s momentum. Most bands on The Artisan Era have very clear production, where every note and drum hit can be easily heard, which is why I was surprised that Warforged opted for a much more disorganized and chaotic mix. While this works for many other bands, it ends up muddying Warforged’s sound, and hinders certain aspects of this record.
One of my favorite parts of this album is the vocalist, who sings through a distorted guitar amp, which makes him sound demented. This works as an interesting counterpoint to the often very flowery guitar leads, and goes well with the mix. The boring piano and acoustic guitar leads permeate throughout the entirety of I: Voice, and constantly bring me out of the album and keep me from getting really invested in the music. While the drummer is extremely talented, his kit sounds distorted and buried in the mix, which makes it hard to decipher what he is playing. The bass sounds nice and meaty when you can hear it, but for the most part, it sounds completely covered up by guitars.
There are nowhere near as many solos on this record as you would expect from a technical death metal band, and even the ones on the record are a mixed bag. The aforementioned "We’ve Been Here Before" is my favorite solo on the whole record, and while there are a handful that get close to that track, there are also some that completely miss the mark. On the track "Nightfall Came," it sounds as if the guitarist is trying to play a solo outside of the key, which is an interesting risk that ultimately falls flat and makes for a cringeworthy and unappealing song. I have the same criticism of the guitar leads, which are mostly mediocre, with something interesting being played only on occasion. After listening to the first four tracks, everything starts to blend together. Many musical ideas on the record sound underdeveloped, and while all the musicians on this record are talented, their songwriting abilities leave a lot to be desired. Every riff and solo the band plays is played for less than a minute, which makes it hard to grab on to any aspect of this record. All in all, Warforged have a lot of talent and some interesting ideas, but when you release something with this much filler, it’s hard to not disappoint your fans.
PS: To any death metal bands reading this, if your going to have an interlude with an acoustic guitar or a piano, please make sure it aids the music and sounds good, and please don’t have one on every single song.
Warforged - I: Voice was released May 2019 from The Artisan Era
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!