Wage War – ‘STIGMA’ [Album Review]

Review: Jack Price

Wage War have come a long way since their humble deathcore beginnings. Each album has shown a different evolution of the band, and Stigma is no different. With the ever changing landscape of metal sub genres, the boys from Florida have managed to hold true to their roots while encapsulating the current trends into their signature sound.
Stigma has a flow laced with aggression and groove that makes it stand out from the crowd of synth-infused genericness that is today’s scene. Wage War has found a balance that is fresh and familiar. The singles released from the record, while mixed in reviews, MAGNETICNAIL5, and TOMBSTONE, have accumulated over 11 million streams on Spotify alone and set the stage for the album.
Opening to an echoing, thumping synth beat, THE SHOW’S ABOUT TO START doesn’t start off as you’d expect until almost a minute in, as the title is whispered to the audience before the heavily distorted guitars kick like a mule! The mixture of electronica and vocals from both lead vocalist Briton Bond and clean vocalist, and rhythm guitarist, Cody Quistad creates yet another satisfying layer to the track. Bond’s screams during the bridge at the 2 and a half minute mark ensure a powerful album is sure to follow.
SELF SACRIFICE keeps the party moving but adds more metalcore into the mix, almost bringing a more aggressive Bad Omens feel, with quick vocals from Briton through the chorus and flourishes of raging guitar from Seth Blake and chugging bass Chris Gaylord. Backing the track with some cymbal heavy percussion is Stephen Kluesener, who keeps the track intensely entertained through the temp changes.
Two of the three aforementioned singles feature next, with the melodic anthem MAGNETIC, its lovingly crafted lyrics depicting a story of two lovers fighting to stay away from each other, the pull of each other being more than their will power to stay away. In complete contrast, NAIL5 is a heavier, groovy track with a heavy vocal composition straight from the Corey Taylor’s Handbook On How To Metal, with the exception of the first verse that is delivered by Quistad
HAPPY HUNTING brings the industrial sound to the album, while adding some thick vocal effects and an evil disco feel that feels like a perfect mix of Rob Zombie and early Static-X. Fuck, the vocal delivery from Briton would be an absolute workout and is sure to be an audience killer for their live shows. IS THIS HOW IT ENDS is slightly disappointing as the final track but doesn’t diminish the album by any means. It does leave the listener wanting more, from the catchy chorus to the operatic to the ffffffat twangy bass in the bridge and outro to the simple vocal switches for both vocalists. 
The Wage War fellas have done an amazing job composing a well crafted record with Stigma, embodying it with their spin of the current trends while continuing to have the band’s identity and familiar sound present. The heavier tracks such as HAPPY HUNTINGSELF SACRIFICE and NAIL5 felt straight off a modern rendition of the Blade 2 soundtrack, while the more emotionally charged tracks like MAGNETIC and HELLBENT were powerful and honest. 10 tracks were not enough and we are going to need an Australian tour A-fucking-SAP!
STIGMA is available HERE.