War of Ages is at it again with their fourth full length album called Arise & Conquer. Lead vocalist and songwriter Tim Lambesis of As I Lay Dying produced their latest project and the end result is probably one of the best hardcore metal albums of 2008. After hearing last year's Fire From The Tomb, I was a little disappointed with the re-recorded songs and was not sure what War of Ages would do next. Then I heard the rough mix of the song "The Awakening" and became very optimistic for their next studio album.
Fans of hardcore metal should not be disappointed with Arise & Conquer. The album starts off with vocalist Leroy Hamp screaming the words, "All consuming fire, Burn!" The listener is then drawn into the first song called "All Consuming Fire" with fast hitting drums, off-the-wall guitar licks, and some of the best screaming vocals ever heard on a War of Ages album. "Consume me oh Lord, Release my selfishness, We hold this unto you, All consuming fire burn, Straight to the heart, God give me strength, River of life flow through my veins, I exalt Your name, Hold onto me, I'll never let go, Consume me Lord." It has been a long time since I have heard bold in-your-face Christian lyrics like this in rock music. "When Faith Turns To Ashes" is a short metal track that runs less than two minutes, but it serves almost as an introduction to the third song, "Through The Flames." More or less, it's a song about believers standing up against the forces of evil. "Salvation" is the heaviest, and in my opinion, the best song on Arise & Conquer. Steve Brown and Brannon Bernatowicz tear it up on the opening of the song with a style very reminiscent to some of the great 80's metal bands, like Iron Maiden. Once again, bold Christian lyrics appear throughout the song: "Lord, we hear your prayer bring forth revival, Rise oh ancient one, breathe salvation."
The final mix of "The Awakening" is much heavier and faster than the rough version that appeared on their previous album, Fire From The Tomb. Musically and lyrically nothing has changed, but Leroy added in a few more screams and growls into this final mix. War of Ages ends the album beautifully with the song "The Deception of Strongholds." It starts off slowly with one guitar track leading the song for almost a minute and then builds up with a second lead guitar, heavy bass guitar, and fast drums coming into the mix. The song becomes more progressive when Leroy's screaming come in, "I wait for you to breathe through me, I long for Your love, My faith guides me in this darkness, I battle for you on my own, I hear my calling." This is a great metal song that wraps things up on a high note. If I have one thing to complain about on Arise & Conquer, however, it would have to be the cover art. Dave Quiggle worked on the artwork for all of the albums by War of Ages and he has put together a great concept of good conquering over evil. I loved his artwork on Pride of The Wicked and Fire From The Tomb, but this new cover seems a little more like a cartoon rather than a photo realistic painting. I can almost see the outlines of the soldier as he stabs a dragon with a spear and the dragon's feet and wings do not seem very realistic.
Despite the artwork, this is a great metal masterpiece. I would have to say that this is the best album from War of Ages yet. That is really something because their self-titled debut was their best to date and that didn't seem any way they could top the perfection of that album. Arise & Conquer proves me wrong. This is the definitive War of Ages. With their success on tour with Throwdown, Soilwork, and Bleeding Through, I am sure there will be new fans that will enjoy this release. So if you are a new fan or old school fan of hardcore metal, go pick up Arise & Conquer.- Review date: 7/29/08, written by Fred Keel of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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