I Am War- Outlive You All

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Monday, September 3, 2012

I Am War brings together Alex Varkatzas of Atreyu and Brandan Schieppati of Bleeding Through to create a hardcore/metalcore aggression fest. On their debut album Outlive You All the duo goes for sheer energy, shying away from some of the melodic tendencies of their main groups for non-stop screaming and in your face riffs. It’s a competent debut that occasionally tries to pull from some inspirations outside of the usual, but the songwriting isn’t strong enough to make most of the tracks distinguishable from one another.

The press release for Outlive You All mentions the duo wanting to create an album that was as pissed off as possible, and they have certainly succeeded in this regard. Not only are the instrumentals full of fast paced, punchy riffs that don’t often stretch past the two minute mark, but I Am War recruited Mick Kenney of Anaal Nathrakh to give their material that extra kick of energy. If you’re familiar with what Kenney has done before then it should come as no surprise that his handiwork makes this release feel noisier and in your face than the majority of the genre. However, while this overwhelming sense of energy helps the band immensely the songwriting isn’t quite up to the task. I Am War has managed to avoid the constant breakdown problem that plagues a lot of metalcore acts, but because the majority of the songs use the same kind of fast, chugging riff it leaves a lot of them sounding far too similar. There are some moments where the instrumentals suddenly switch things up a bit, but it doesn’t happen often enough.

Varkatzas takes the lead vocal position, but plenty of time is given to Schieppati as well. The result is an equal combination of screaming and growling that gives the vocal arrangements some much needed variation. If you’re familiar with either of the two singers then their performances will sound familiar, and each sounds as though they are really giving it their all and moving through the songs without pausing to rest. There was one element that became a bit grating, and that was the constant use of gang vocals. While this is certainly common in hardcore, it was used so frequently on Outlive You All that it began to get on my nerves. This is more of a personal preference as it seems likely that some listeners might actually like this, but keep that in mind before you check this one out.

I Am War’s debut isn’t necessarily a bad record but it doesn’t quite stand out enough to be a must have. There is potential though, as with some fleshed out songwriting that provides some additional riff variation and real hooks this group could become a heavy hitter. It does seem that this isn’t going to be a one-shot deal and there may be more material down the road though, so here’s hoping that this project can move from decent to something truly great.

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