Floridian metalcore crew Wage War are gearing up to release their new and fourth album, Manic (on October 1st on Fearless Records), which, they say, reflects the "severe highs and lows" of the COVID era. They first previewed Manic with the crushing lead single, "High Horse," which was recently followed up by the anthemic cut "Circle the Drain" (hear that below).
"Manic encompasses everything we've gone through as musicians in the last year-and-a-half," says drummer Stephan Kluesener of the new album. "The whole industry halted, and we technically lost our jobs. Our scene was among the first to leave and the last to come back. The album captures the whole period."
"Mania is a wild emotion," adds Cody Quistad (rhythm guitar, clean vocals). "The last year was all severe highs and lows. We had some victories, but we've also had so many low points. We've built this thing for the last 10 years and put all of our chips into it. We've missed birthdays and funerals, but we've done some extraordinary things. Last year, we found ourselves wondering if it would ever come back. That's really what the album is about."
For Wage War, creating music has been a crucial component in helping them navigate and process the upheaval of 2020. But, obviously, music is not a new refuge or outlet for the guys. It's helped them overcome plenty of dark times before COVID-19, provided them a decade-plus-long career and so much more.
Ahead of Manic's release, we caught up with singer Briton Bond for a chat about the albums that changed his life and influenced his own musical expressions in Wage War. Read the stories behind his picks below.
I feel like with this record it's what started it all. I remember like it was yesterday, thumbing through my dad's old entertainment center where he had probably eight hundred CDs and I ran across Ride the Lightning. I was around ten years old and was already a fan of classic rock bands like Van Halen and Black Sabbath, because it was on all the time being around my dad. It looked like a record I shouldn't be listening to — so that made me want to listen to it even more. "Fight Fire With Fire" is the first track on the record, and as soon as that fast thrash riff came in I was a metalhead for life.
This was a record I used to listen and sing to all the time as a teenager. It really helped me develop a pissed-off sound to my vocals. Even to this day I don't think there is a more pissed-off and raw record than Iowa.
This one was huge for me in just vibing and learning how to groove to melodic and heavy parts at the same time. Deftones can be so heavy and so chill and do it so seamlessly. This was a record that I was jamming on a regular basis.
This is the one where I refined my sound the most. I would put this on every day I got home from school and would sing the entire record. [Singer] Phil [Labonte] had such a dynamic sound from the high shrilling screams to the guttural lows. It was definitely a sound I wanted to learn. I credit this record with almost everything I know about metalcore-style vocals.
I absolutely love this record. It was something me and my dad would rock out to. I feel like if you are a metal fan, in general, you know about this band and record. They are definitely one of the godfathers of metalcore and I think a lot of bands that are around now definitely got influence from Killswitch.