If you take away a bear’s growl, is it still ferocious? Imposing? Opeth’s growl is …
Once you’ve heard Pressure, the third album from Florida’s post-hardcore princes Wage War, you’ll wish you had more than fifteen minutes to unpack every little amazing nuance with rhythm guitarist and clean vocalist Cody Quistad.
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In our humble opinion, the album. Is. Amazing! A step up from anything Wage War have done before. Yet, the album title seems to have a negative connotation. So much rage and emotion and negativity yet uplifting end-of-the-tunnel stuff, Quistad agrees it’s been quite the experience from start to finish.
For a start, recording Pressure in Los Angeles as opposed to their home state of Florida, where 2015’s Blueprint and 2017’s Deadweight were produced, had a completely different vibe. “Right off the bat we were in a completely different environment,” says Quistad, “and I think that has a lot to do with how the record came out.
“We were also living together in the same house at the time, so it was kinda cool to get back to basics with just the five of us. It had really been a long time since we’ve been together in the same place.
“We really pride ourselves on being truly best friends, not just band members and business partners—that was step one, I think.”
Going in to Pressure, Wage War were adamant they weren’t going to make carbon copies of their first two offerings. “I feel like our first two records are pretty close together, and that was a good move for us because it solidified us as a band,” says Quistad. “We wanted to make sure we stepped out on this one. We went in with no boundaries.
“We knew we could make a super heavy song or a super melodic song, and somewhere along the way a majority of the people that listen to our band can get into it.
We didn’t go in to make the heaviest record possible, we didn’t go into make a radio rock record, we just wanted to make 12 songs we absolutely loved and that were different from each other. And that’s what we came out with.
“We didn’t go in to make the heaviest record possible, we didn’t go into make a radio rock record, we just wanted to make 12 songs we absolutely loved and that were different from each other. And that’s what we came out with.”
The focus and the passion was placed heavily on songwriting for Wage War, and it shows. Wage War have made concise songs, but that doesn’t mean they’re not a metal band, it just means they’ve got more structured songs. “We wanna be smart about how we write songs,” says Quistad, “We really honed in on that and things came out great.”
The unity of Wage War wiped the slate clean so they could focus all the wonderful elements of songwriting, performance, and friendship that they’d learned by releasing two albums prior. “One thing we definitely never wanted to do was pigeonhole our band into being one thing,” Quistad says firmly. “Being so young and this only being our third record, I feel like we had the freedom to really expand upon “what Wage War is”.
“It’s not just a breakdown band and it’s not just a singing band, it’s all of these different things in between. Through that, interacting with each other, we really all loved all the songs on the record.
“Of course there’s a little nervousness about putting out something new, especially something you really decided to go for, but we looked at each other at the end and were like, ‘This is it.’ Yeah, very proud of it.”
It’s interesting Quistad should talk about not wanting to pigeon hole the band into any one particular – but does he have any sense of what he’d like Wage War to be? “First and foremost, Wage War will always be a heavy band,” he says. “If I were to classify to someone, we’re a metal band. We love riffs so there’ll always be riffs. We love the aggressive live energy of heavy songs so we’ll always do heavy stuff, we love singalongs, choruses people can really sink their teeth into.
“I think our band thrives on playing live—our number one goal is for kids to show up and have a good time. I don’t care if they wanna get in the pit or jump up and down, wave their arms around or sing at the top of their lungs, we really wrote this record that people can hear live and everything translates.
“Wage War is not one thing or the other but overall, I think we’re a heavy band that likes to have songs you can sing along to.”