Melodic metalcore quintet Wage War is back with their fourth album but, even though “Relapse” is an absolute monster of an opener there is just something that niggles about Manic that makes it a frustrating listen. Don’t get me wrong, there are some absolutely banging tracks throughout the album, but my real peeve is that nowadays much-favoured use of processed clean vocals and pristine electro-rock that takes the sheen off the whole thing.

It’s a pity because when the metalcore band let rip, as they have done on all three albums prior to Manic, they’ve proved themselves to be a force to be reckoned with. The problem comes when they interject their sound with that electro, almost pop effect whether it be on the vocals or the breakdowns, as they do on the title track causing any momentum they’ve built up to grind to a halt. Like a said, it’s a massive pity really because, when Wage War smashes through pulverizing offerings like “High Horse” and “Death Roll,” they are almost unstoppable.

However, for each of those tracks, there’s a song like “Never Said Goodbye” which, thanks to that modern production, has all the life sucked out of what potentially could have been a massive mainstream hit for the band. Don’t get me wrong, when the group get that balance of clean modern rock and the more abrasive anthemic metalcore bang on, as they do on the huge “True Colours,” you start to hear the sound of an act that clearly have the knack to write a song that sits comfortably with those who like their metal to be easier on the ear as it would with those who like to come away from the pit with a split lip.

“If Tomorrow Never Comes” closes the record, it has to be said, as one of Manic’s finest moments. Starting out as a polished mix of modern rock and metal, the final moments of the album see the metalcore band steering into gentler, calmer waters. A delightful end to a mixed-bag of an album that, thankfully, has plenty more attention-grabbing moments than not.

Manic Track Listing:

1. Relapse
2. Teeth
3. Manic
4. High Horse
5. Circle The Drain
6. Godspeed
7. Death Roll
8. Slow Burn
9. Never Said Goodbye
10. True Colors
11. If Tomorrow Never Comes

Run Time: 33:42
Release Date: October 1, 2021
Record Label: Fearless Records

I have an unhealthy obsession with bad horror movies, the song Wanted Dead Or Alive and crap British game shows. I do this not because of the sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll lifestyle it affords me but more because it gives me an excuse to listen to bands that sound like hippos mating.