The Pitch: After years of building up a slow hype with a series of excellent singles on bandcamp, Chicago progressive death metal band Warforged continue The Artisan Era's reign over 2019 with their debut full length album. FFO: Beyond Creation, Exocrine, Fallujah
What I Like: Where even to begin? Listening to I: Voice has been an intensely cathartic experience; one that I've waited for since around 2015 upon discovering "Two Demons." So rare is it that such hype manages to deliver on its promise. Warforged is a band that above all else worships dynamics, which helps to set them apart from other prog and tech death bands. You get the same brutality, speed, and technicality of incredible labelmates like Inferi and Equipoise, but the focus is very much on creating a broad spectrum of volume and atmosphere.In this respect, the closest comparison within the genre is perhaps Fallujah, but honestly I found my mind drifting to more experimental groups like Cleric given how deep these guys are willing to go down the rabbit hole.
Warforged aren't afraid to venture deep into freeform jazz, synths, piano, and acoustic. "Eat Them While They Sleep" is just one fine example, kicking off with fierce riffs and truly demented blackened vocals, but later on mashing all of these other elements together into moments that are more David Lynch meets Lewis Carrol than Artificial Brain. And the further we venture into this lengthy opus, the more eclectic and unpredictable things get. There's a portion in the middle of "Willow" that is as moody and atmospheric as any big budget film score, and the 12+ minute "Old Friend" goes a little Thom Yorke (or given what was said in the interview, maybe Johnny Greenwood). The insanely cathartic solo and bass work in the final third of "Cellar"? Absolutely remarkable.
Critiques: Less a critique and more a note of importance: if you are looking for something fun, you're better off with the likes of Equipoise and Inferi. Those are "popcorn" albums that get me amped over and over again. I: Voice is has more of a "high art" feel, which I don't mean to sound pretentious. It's a dense experience that commands a certain level of awe and respect as opposed to simply hair-helicoptering your way into oblivion. To make a comparison, I loved watching Suspiria (speaking of Thom Yorke) and will certainly buy it, but it's a film I can only watch in a certain mood.
The Verdict: Positively stunning, and certainly the most interesting album I have heard so far this year. Not only does it earn marks for the usual strong performances and musicianship, I: Voice really rolls the shadows of familiar into something that feels remarkably fresh. Album of the year material. Warforged live up to the hype. Get it below and listen to my INTERVIEW WITH THE BAND to learn more.
Flight's Fav's: We've Been Here Before, Eat Them While They Sleep, Nightfall Came
- Review by FlightOfIcarus
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