Warder – Escape Plan
Allow me to introduce Warder, a five piece heavy/power outfit from Quebec, and another Canadian band trying to make its breakthrough into what has become something of a supersaturated field in their home country. Warder plays a middle-fast brand of fairly melodic modern heavy metal that nods more than occasionally to standardized power metal sounds, though featuring a beefier sound. Escape Plan is the group’s debut EP, and features a production job that, for an unsigned group, the band can be proud of calling their own.
The first item that caught my attention was the vocal work of Guillaume Laberge. Dwelling in the baritone vocal range and throwing a very meaty tone around, Laberge strains a bit when he reaches to the high register, as well as occasionally shout-singing (a practice that I’m not overly fond of, but which abounds in their chosen style) in a fashion that I found unexciting, but quite inoffensive.
Opener “Speak To Me” left me a bit nonplussed, droning on a bit and lacking the punchy hooks of a truly effective introductory track. However, both “Alone” and “Midnight Run”, proved considerably better in capturing my attention, and the dark imagery of the latter helped ramp up the energy level a great deal. Still however, I note the relatively simplistic style of guitar playing- quite often combining a basic slow melody in the first half of a phrase, followed by a rapid run to bring the entire section or riff to a close. This pattern was so prevalent that I began to notice it in nearly every song, and the realization brought me to cast a critical eye on the tendency. Thankfully, “Pyromancer” breaks the trend a bit, with the most interesting melodic work on the EP, and probably my personally favorite pick, slowing to a standout, effective chorus that features some of Laberge’s best singing.
When all is said and done, Escape Plan is interesting enough for a spin or two, but I didn’t find it to grow on me any further after five or six listens. The good points remain head bangable, but a fair portion of the work (especially the opener and 11 minute epic “The Fight Before The End”) runs on and just doesn’t quite stack up to my (admittedly) high standards. However, with strong production and very capable delivery of solid, straight-ahead melodic heavy metal, this is a good debut for Warder’s field. I therefore safely recommend it to those who prefer the mid-paced, tromping advance of this style.
Dan’s Rating: 3.0 out of 5