Since their emphatic debut ‘Blueprints’ back in 2015, Ocala heavyweights Wage War have been making their way up the metalcore ladder with a few gigantic steps.
Their first album was a merciless, malevolent journey through bruising breakdowns and rifling riffs, while recent releases have continued that trend alongside the addition of a touch more melodic, slick songwriting.
Now the five-piece are across the Atlantic to tour their latest album, ‘Pressure’, and tonight’s stop is at the G2 in Glasgow.
First up is Aussie metalcore lot, Thornhill , who aren’t here to mess about. Carrying a weighty sound headlined by frontman Jacob Charlton‘s sweeping, falsetto cleans that ease into banshee-like squeals – no kidding, his voice goes from Muse‘s Matt Bellamy to Knocked Loose‘s Bryan Garris in pretty effortless fashion.
Having dropped their debut ‘The Dark Pool’ towards the end of 2019, their setlist is understandably stocked with fresh tracks, a fair few of which the crowd are singing along and having a good old mosh about to. When Charlton pelts it down to the barrier at one point, he hands the mic to a member of the crowd who (let’s just say) isn’t able to match his own crushing vocal delivery.
Walking out with graffitied stage art, war paint on cheeks, and dressed like extras from Mad Max, Arizona’s nu-metal unit Ded  make an impressive entry. The Slipknot-esque ‘FMFY’ is carefully chosen as the opener, with the mantra “Fuck me and fuck you too” about as subtle as the nuclear war these lot look like they’ve escaped from, and equally as mental in sound.
That said, their rap-rock sound is comfortingly familiar, matched with some bulky, anthemic choruses – see ‘Anti-Everything’ and ‘Hate Me’ for proof that they can bring it. What’s more, their performance is as professional as they come, with slick production and killer stage presence. It’s just a shame the crowd aren’t as up for it as the band.
G2, being the little sister of the larger Garage upstairs, isn’t the biggest venue, yet even when sold out it’s still rammed full of folk and atmosphere. As Wage War  take their first steps out onto the pillared stage, the pit pushes forward, ready for the deadly ‘Who I Am’ to kick into gear.
As most were expecting, this show was always going to be a rowdy experience – what with the sheer size of the pit taking up most of the front to middle of the floor, twinned with the fact that the majority of Wage War tracks have at least a couple of breakdowns scattered around in them.
Newer material like ‘Prison’ is a fantastic sign of the band’s progress from their early material – not detracting from their heaviness, yet still bulldozing its way through with the addition of big sing-alongs and memorable vocal hooks. Fans are digging it too, coming up for air just to scream along with Briton Bond and Cody Quistad. On record, there’s a diversity to their vocals, and in the live setting, it’s immaculately matched. Bond, Briton Bond (sorry, had to) growls, screeches, and squeals marvellously, with one of the most varied selection of screams you’ll hear in this scene, whilst Quistad is equally top-notch in his contrasting cleans.
While this is unapologetically branded as the ‘Pressure’ tour, the band know their older material is still dearly loved, and there’s no chance that it’s getting neglected. Favourites like ‘Alive’, ‘Twenty One’, and the unrelenting ‘The River’ unleash disorderly chaos, walls-of-death, and bodies lumbering over one another in an attempt to exorcise the demons that this devilish metal dishes out to its listeners freely. One guy in the centre, notably towering over everyone in height and stature and donning a ‘Pit Troll’ t-shirt, is living up to his name, and is also doing a fantastic job as a hype man in absolutely tearing shit up, elbow swinging, and all that jazz.
As they approach the end of their set, more melodic numbers from ‘Pressure’ and second album ‘Deadweight’ keep the energy high, and give space for lungs to sing loud and proud. ‘Grave’, ‘Ghost’, ‘Me Against Myself’, and ‘Johnny Cash’ (no, not the acoustic version) in particular are busy and bullish and delivered – as everything tonight – exceptionally well.
Leaving the stage to the riff-tastic, death canon that is ‘Low’ is an emphatic way to bow out (even if it is just for four minutes). When they do come back out to the emotional (and surprisingly slow number for an encore) ‘Hurt’, the crowd embrace the melancholy briefly before rearing themselves for one final hit (quite literally) of bedlam on final number, ‘Stitch’.
If you were in two minds about checking out Wage War, either on record or in a live setting, let this concert be an example of their colossal quality within the metalcore scene.