21 May 2021 (released)
20 May 2021
With riffs that flow from revved-up sputter to dense open chords and drums that ratchet in kind, Sacramento hard rock outfit Waves of Distortion have concocted a focussed assault that is informed by a strong sense of melodicism. Something like modern riff-heavy Deftones with a darker metal element woven in. There are also a few callbacks to late 90s alt-metal. The sound grew out of guitarist Brennan Von Slack's vision for a sound based on layered melodic distortion. Conceived in 2018, Von Slack began to reach out recruiting bassist Glen Evans and drummer Jonas Wahlstrom to fill out his wall of sound. This sound was solidified by the final addition of dynamic singer Josiah Fox. The vocalist has several weapons in his arsenal. Sure he can hit the blood-curdling yell that any great metal frontman worth his salt can conjure. He uses it sparingly though, only pulled out to make a point at key climaxes. The rest of the time he is stretching out his range; at times hitting the sarcastic arena bellow of Daron Malakian or slipping into a rap-infused cadence when he needs to lay down a grind. Often he hits on touchstones of Mike Patton's style, how the vocal master will infuse a grandiose, almost operatic delivery into what otherwise would be grimy back alley sludgefests. In the end, it gives Fox a unique voice and serves as the perfect expression of Von Slack's vision.
The chugging riffing comes out of the gate hard on the opener 'R.A.T.'. Fox screams to the sky as Von Slack churns the cauldron. The bridge opens up to dramatic chords that transform the straightforward metal cut into a grandiose showpiece. 'Original Sin' is one of the album's standout hits with its lumbering, grunge-driven rhythm section which gives plenty of space for Fox's unique commanding vocal tone. He holds out on the full scream here even when the band swells to a crest making the lyrics that much more impactful and consequential. The bridge shifts gears to an oceanic sway with whale song-wailing guitar that feels descended from the first album from A Perfect Circle. Fox brings home the track's heavy theme of self-destruction with a deliberate heavy-handed finale.
On 'Chemical Dependency' Fox whips out rap-metal vocals as Von Slack plays a prickly descending backing. Big chords and relatively clean vocals open up the chorus to a heavy shouting bridge. 'Ghost and Flies' arpeggiated clean guitar holds the late album emotional weight. Fox employs that exaggerated Malakian delivery for an anthem that would get the stadium swaying (when that becomes a thing again). 'Note to Self' ends the record with an ode to the state of self-reflection where you finally pull your head out of your ass. Fox's Patton energy is strong on this one.
Race Against Time brings the heavy but balances it with well-concocted melodic passages and enigmatic vocals. A piece about being broken down and building yourself back up again with the varying states and moods that one experiences on the journey. Not only the bloodshot-eye rage or the bouts of depressed paralysis but all the stages in between. A nuanced heavy record.