Loren Battle – Words Begin Wars
Record Label: Powerline Management
Release Date: February 25th, 2008
I've been fooled. I wanted to believe Loren Battle were just another hardcore band. I wanted to believe they, like many bands in the same circle, had nothing new to offer to their scene or to music itself. There are moments on their debut album, Words Begin Wars, where they invite the comparison to lesser bands, even dare the listener to turn off the music and walk away thinking they know what Loren Battle are all about. However, as I began to search for what they did right on just one track, I found that there was much they did right on the next track as well and even more on the next. Before I knew it, I found myself accepting that, amidst the leanings of a typical hardcore band, Loren Battle has produced a solid effort in their debut album Words Begin Wars.
Since 2004, the Phoenix-based metalcore group known as Loren Battle has been known as a band to see live in concert; Words Begin Wars doesn’t shy away from this fact. As far as albums go in capturing the energy of a band, credit must be given to producers Matt Keller and Joel Love for a job well done. Their opening track, “A Hero’s Nightmare” is an excellent example of high-energy playing that will translate well to the live stage. Like most debut albums, however, there are certain aspects of the production quality that are left to be desired. The best example of the production quality affecting Loren Battle negatively is seen through vocalist Joey Timmons. Timmons is a talented screamer with a strong presence that definitely could have been highlighted more. The closing breakdown in the track “The Faint and the Faded” is a perfect moment for fans to realize how consistent Timmons is, and has been, throughout the entire album. Instead, Timmons takes a backstage role to guitar work and low production value.
Musically, Loren Battle are on the razor’s edge between the forgettable and the significant. One of the most prominent strengths of the album is the clear effort Loren Battle made to make each song unique in its own right and different from the last. Consistently throughout the album, every time I was ready to give up on a track, Loren Battle introduced a completely new and interesting-to-the-ear section. Almost as a “thank you” to their fans, Loren Battle reward the patient listener who listens to their songs all the way through. There are a few good examples of Loren Battle doing this time and time again, but a couple that standout are, “Finest Hour,” and “When Angels Sin.”
The greatest musical strength of Loren Battle is the guitar work as demonstrated by Logan Guntermann. Clearly, Guntermann is a very talented guitarist with a high ability to demolish every song with a sweeping solo. However, to his credit, Guntermann focuses his talent into solos and riffs that end up being tasteful and timely as seen in such tracks as “3 Ft. Funeral” and “Werewolves in Love.” After an entire album of Guntermann delivering lines such as these, only once does Guntermann really let loose and indulge his capability in, “The Manhattan Project.” However, by this point in the album, his solo is a welcome break from consistent quality playing at a more reserved level.
Vocalist and drummer Ryan Mabee also serves a vital role in providing simple yet strong vocals. Many times Mabee’s vocal presence is a welcome addition that adds much to a song as seen in songs such as, “The Faint and the Faded” and “Remember the Archer.”
Lastly, the forgettable aspects of Words Begin Wars are couched within the conventions of the metalcore genre itself. The album has a tendency to use similar riffs from song to song and, when incorporating breakdowns, they are usually simple to a point that disengages the listener. The worst part of the album is the one that the band credits the album title with: the lyrics. As a metalcore band, the need for a band to prove its toughness is apparent, but Timmons often overcompensates with threats of murdering long lost lovers and singing of ambiguous subject matter, which in the end, all leads up to group cheering sections such as, “There’s no beauty in this breakdown,” as seen in “Remember the Archer.”
When I wanted to believe Loren Battle was just another metalcore breakdown band, I became the fool. I urge the listener to give Words Begin Wars a second, third and fourth listen; I promise you won’t be disappointed.