Beginning as a solo project for Converge frontman Jacob Bannon, Wear Your Wounds have evolved into a full blown band comprised of members from highly influential bands in the hardcore/metal scene. The debut full length WYW featured material that had been written and honed for years, much of said material being piano driven. The haunting soundscapes were built upon by multiple guest musicians like Mike McKenzie, Chris Maggio and Sean Martin, all of which comprise today’s lineup along with Adam McGrath.

Rust On The Gates Of Heaven is the triumphant sophomore record that I’ve had the privilege of spending a solid two months listening to. Upon seeing the band perform at Saint Vitus a couple months back, I was fully on board with the new direction and eager to hear the new tracks in their recorded form. The end result exceeds any of my expectations, with Kurt Ballou’s production again allowing all aspects of this supergroup to shine.

Jacob Bannon’s cleaner vocal delivery is nothing new to fans of Converge, especially on their past couple albums. I had the feeling as listener that Bannon tucked back the vocals more on the previous record, maybe as a result of the dark subject matter or having the typical chaotic elements that battled for sonic prominence being stripped away. His vocals on this record often times highlight the front half of the track, still soaked in various reverbs or delays. However this time I feel its less about hiding behind the band and more about drawing you in to really listen to what he’s saying.

The title track was the first single released, and is a great encapsulation of what Wear Your Wounds is sonically capable of. Walls of washy cymbals emphasize a piano driven melody with Bannon’s haunting vocals as eerie lead guitar begins to creep in. The track eventually crescendos into a distorted mid tempo jam that highlights the strength of the three guitar assault. A catchy solo unhinges into delay soaked chaos before pulling back into another epic lead as the song eventually fizzles out.

”Tomorrow’s Sorrow” starts with nothing but guitar and vocals, but slowly builds into a chunky bridge where drummer Chris Maggio shows off his range. A two step inducing romp supports a solo before kicking into a high tempo blast beat to end the track off. The contributions of the band undoubtedly have led this record to sound heavier than its predecessor, which is evident while listening to live renditions of WYW material on their Live At The BBC EP.

”Brittle Pillar” comes out of the gate with an extremely heavy wall of guitar and thunderous, acrobatic drumming that would lead you to thinking you were hearing a new Converge track. The track drones on a heavy rhythm section for a majority of the track while a hypnotic guitar riff pops in and out throughout. Bannon’s haunting vocals are a highlight on this one, and that continues with ”Truth Is A Lonely Word”. The industrial-esque verses contrast nicely with the triumphant and distorted choruses that are again emphasized by delay soaked lead guitar lines and crashing drums. The dynamic balance between the calm and the chaos is a major strength of Wear Your Wounds, never laying too much into either side.

”Rainbow Fades” was a track I had heard live that stuck with me days after the performance and the recorded version holds up just as well. The front half of the track is highlighted by a restrained rhythm section with hypnotizing clean guitars that dance around the stereo spectrum. As the track picks up intensity, it eventually explodes into a palm muted bridge that builds into a fantastic driving wall of dissonant chords and double kick beats.

”Lurking Shadow” is quite possibly my favorite track on the record, as I’ve gone back many times over the past couple months to listen. Bannon’s lyrics are deeply personal here as they are on all of the material, but the refrained chorus is as dark as it is catchy.

I have such a hard time
Looking in my own eyes
With what I’ve lost to fallen time

McGrath's vocal harmonies really enhance the catchiness of the chorus and on other moments throughout the record. The track builds into a kick/snare backbeat while slide guitar riffs and ethereal synth lines duel it out until the track concludes abruptly.

Rust On The Gates Of Heaven is a defiant middle finger to the “sophomore slump” that claims the lives of many bands and undoubtedly exceeds their previous effort. The fully realized lineup of Wear Your Wounds is something I hope continues as I believe they have yet to tip the iceberg of what they are capable of as a unit. For a lineup of musicians that have greatly contributed to bands that I grew up listening to, its fantastic to grow up with them as they continue to create music that will stay with me for years to come.

Rust On The Gates Of Heaven is out Friday on Deathwish Inc and you can catch Wear Your Wounds opening for Torche this August.