American deathcore dealers, I Declare War, have released a brand new EP called Downcast. Downcast was released independently on the 18th October, 2019.
I Declare War are well established and experienced having formed back in 2005. They have 6 full lengths under their belts as well as a Christmas EP and now this, Downcast. Their last release was 2016’s Songs for the Sick. They aren’t really the most settled of bands, or at least haven’t been in the past. Currently a 4 piece but with 2 full time members and 2 live members they also have a huge list of ex members (11 across all areas of the band). The current members are Jamie Hanks on lead vocals with John Winters on rhythm guitar. Live members are Greg Kirkpatrick on lead guitar and Garon Howe on drums. Interestingly, none of the current members are founders with Jamie Hanks being the longest serving having joined in 2010.
Downcast is 5 tracks weighing in at around 16 minutes in length. Don’t expect any surprises though. I Declare War are a deathcore band and here we get 5 tracks of straight up, no holds barred deathcore. On one hand that makes it very standard and predictable. On the other it’s good, solid heavy metal. There are no twists on the style. No little adventures into other sub genres. It really is 5 in your face, chunky sounding deathcore tracks, designed to pummel. Delivering the bands message with ferocity and force.
The EP can be summed up by the first track, Grieve for No One. It’s a vicious assault. Low in tone with blasting drum patterns and a deep, chunky riff. Vocals mix between two tones of unclean. Deep, unfathomable growls and higher shouts. The pace switches up in the track at times between manic attack and a slower groove like drop. It’s good but equally nothing new. Solid but unspectacular. Hypothermic follows and is the same. It has a quicker start but soon settles into a stop start riff. The odd high pitches quit at squeal offers something a little different but otherwise it could be the first track.
Desperate Times has a nice rhythm to its intro as well as some absolutely mesmerising drum sections. The super slow down is a bit boring though acts as a nice foil for the sudden increase in pace that follows. Hopeless does have a few moments that stand out and is probably my favourite track. The blackened start is cool. The harmonised growls at the start sound brilliant and the riff is intense and rhythmic. The track has a darker feel to it. It feels a little hopeless though has a strange ending where there is a 10 second gap of silence before they come back in for a final line or two.
Downcast closes on Dark Blur. What can I say about this track that I haven’t already said? Nothing really as it has nothing noteworthy in it. It is a decent deathcore song but could be any song on the EP or any band. Heavy, dark with punishing drum rhythms, yes. And that great but it doesn’t stand out within a genre chock full of heavy, dark and punishing drum rhythms.
I Declare War are a band with a lot of history and one of the early pioneers of this sound. They are talented. They release brutal music with heart and heaviness and that all comes through on Downcast. The problem is that there are now thousands of bands releasing the same style of music. Saturating the market. When that happens, a band or album or EP has to have something about it that makes it stand out from the crowd. Downcast doesn’t have that. It is a genre filler. More solid content for a full genre but that is it. So does that make it bad? No. Not even close. It’s good. Seriously heavy and intense. Fans of the genre or band will be very pleased. For me though, and I am a deathcore fan, it just doesn’t have anything different or standout in it that will hold attention for long or make me want to revisit it after the second or third play. Well, other than Hopeless. That’s a banger.
Downcast is out now on all the usual streaming platforms. You can also grab a copy from the band, here.
I Declare War Links
Downcast by I Declare War (Self Released)
The Final Score - 6.5/10