METALCORE: The metalcore genre is arguably one of the more maligned in all of the metal spectrum. Copycatted and rehashed to the point of becoming stagnant, it takes a truly special something to push the barometer these days. Christian metalcore stalwarts War of Ages steps up to the plate with its eighth studio album in 12 years, Alpha. As is custom, the five piece teeters stealthily between trudging hardcore, aggressive and shaking vocals, and finely composed melodies. In terms of instrumentation, there is nary a hole to be found. All parties are firing on all cylinders, including newly recruited drummer Kaleb Luebchow and bassist Andy Curtell—“Buried Alive” is particularly cohesive. Whether you take issue with the lyrics or themes throughout the band’s discography is purely subjective, but there’s no discounting the talented artistry at play on Alpha. The problem, though, is one of a systemic nature. There just isn’t enough sizzle to cut through years of repetition. You could stack Alpha up against any number of quality metalcore records of decades past and find it difficult to pick A from B—aggressive verses, clean melodic chorus, and angsty lyrics. Fans of the band and genre will undoubtedly find much to gravitate to with Alpha, but those looking for a welcomed palate cleanser will be left lacking. ~ Dillon Collins