Self-described as “Pop Rock ‘n’ MetalCore,” World Gone Cold (WGC) is touted as metal’s newest supergroup. Fans of hard rhythms, synthesizers, and a great mix of clean and screaming vocals (think Memphis May Fire and Attack Attack!) should enjoy WGC’s free EP on Spotify. We’ll review the music and message of the star-studded new band.
First Pass on Full Access Pass
I listen to and hear about music through YouTube. The algorithm knows what I like and what to suggest. So when Christ and Pop Culture editors offered up a press kit for new band World Gone Cold, I was surprised I hadn’t heard of them.
Most articles I write are on a subject I find and pitch. But in this case, a promoter for World Gone Cold reached out to Christ and Pop Culture. When I heard members from Demon Hunter and P.O.D. (two bands that were favorites at different times in my life) had formed a group, I jumped at the chance. Then I had this moment of, Oh no, what if they’re really bad?
Fortunately, they’re pretty good. But it gave me the idea to write down my thoughts from my first listen through the album.
- “Left to Save.” A good mix of clean and screamed vocals. Catchy melody. Synthy underpinnings. But what do they mean, “No one left to save?”
- “Opposites Attract.” Initially poppy vocals. Seems like a slower love song, but morphs into something harder. Sweet lead guitar riff. Synth again.
- “Burn.” Harder. Both vocalists (initially, I incorrectly thought there were two) “harmonize” well. Each song so far has allowed the clean vocalist to shine. I’m impressed with his range, but this song gives the harder vocals center stage. This feels like Oh Sleeper’s complimentary singing. (Basically, I gushed about Ryland Raus, who sings it all). The cry for justice reflected through clean vocals was designed to contrast the heavier vocals’ rage. And yet, the speaker doesn’t commit to “burn” the wrongdoer themselves, instead having faith that retribution will be meted out by something (or Someone) else.
- “Attention.” Starts with caesuras, guitar wails, and echoed vocals reminiscent of songs like Wage War’s “Godspeed.” The lyrics are disconcertingly triumphant (already standing over a body) but also threatening (“there’s something you’re about to find out”).
- “Again.” It seems a relationship has run its course. I don’t gravitate toward songs that musically have a more radio-friendly vibe (i.e. standard alternative rock with a majority of clean vocals). But that didn’t diminish the singer’s passion and statement. An unhealthy relationship shouldn’t be glossed over, but processed therapeutically, which it sounds like he is doing.
- “Apology.” Begins with an ’80s haunting keyboard. I’ll be interested to read the lyrics later to see if this is more “sorry” or “remorse.” He asks, “Is it the burning that you love?” which harkens back to the track titled “Burn.” Maybe there is a deeper theme of temperature considering the band is called World Gone Cold.
- “Reality.” Another song using synthesizers. It has a very 21 Pilots vibe. And the lyric “This is the burning of our universe,” adds more credence to my temperature theme theory.
Breakdowns: Tracks, Guitars, and Relationships
I always wonder how many times professional reviewers listen through a metal album before they sing its praises or shred it to pieces. Sometimes a song you don’t initially like grows on you, and other times, vice versa. As such, I gave the album some space and listened to it twenty plus times.
In order to have a clear picture of the EP, we should understand the members’ previous work. The lineup is: Mark “Traa” Daniels (bass, P.O.D.), Tim “Yogi” Watts (drums, Demon Hunter), Andrew Stanton (lead guitar, Disciple), Mark Anthony (guitar, The Letter Black), and Ryland Raus (vocals, Attack Attack! and Inhale/Exhale). However, songwriting credits belong only to Ryland Raus and Mark Anthony (except “Attention,” solely written by Anthony) which means that musically it’s more The Letter Black, but vocally it’s more Attack Attack! And yet, there is collaboration¹: no one hits like Yogi, slaps like Traa, or shreds like Stanton.
In case you need another perspective, considering bands with albums out in the last year, I think fans of Memphis May Fire and Demon Hunter (as opposed to August Burns Red and Born Through Fire) will enjoy World Gone Cold. The primary reasons for this are the band’s heavy yet melodic foundation, reliance on synthesizers, and mix of clean and screaming vocals.
For me, equally important to the music is the message. Just below a globe logo, the band’s website states: “‘Mother dear, the world’s gone cold…’ Jeff Buckley.” The nod to Buckley, famous for his cover of “Hallelujah,” alludes to WGC’s general direction. But their bio gives the finer points:
The band’s genesis coincided with the lockdowns and restrictions of the 2020 pandemic, which caused them to reflect on the increasing isolation and chilly feeling within the community at large. Steadfast believers in a higher purpose, WORLD GONE COLD seek to warm the blood and soothe the soul with uplifting “dark” hard rock music capable of shining a bit of light in these dark times.
Like so many current “Christian” bands, there is no direct mention of God or Jesus or anything overtly religious. The use of the phrase, “Steadfast believers in a higher purpose,” may perk up ears of those fluent in “Christianese,” while remaining ambiguous enough to not dissuade others. Like much of the fringe media I consume, I appreciate the idea of shining a hopeful light on darkness, while using a genre traditionally thought of as “dark.”
When it comes to songwriting, you won’t need a dictionary to comprehend WGC’s verbiage, and their concepts are straightforward (perhaps even simplistic), but the lyrics are honest and (mostly) relatable. Sonically, I really enjoy “Left to Save” (the longest track name at three words), but I’m mesmerized by its lyrics like “Murder mountain mystery / They found the bodies in the cave.” Are we talkin’ the 2018 mini-series? But what about the caves?! I have so many questions.
If I had to sum up the theme of the album, it would be “relationships.” Every song has threads of dealing with others: heartbreak, break-ups, and breakdowns. Clearly by the title, “Opposites Attract” is relational and seems to be the natural outcome of Paula Abdul’s song by the same name. Although the author admits partial fault (“things I never thought I’d say”) he doesn’t feel bad (“sorry, I’m not so sorry”) but seems at peace (“wishing you the very best” and “we can look back and laugh”).
And lastly, my temperature theme theory. In conjunction with the lyrical cold/burning references, the band’s mission to “warm the blood and soothe the soul” of society’s “chilly feeling” makes me appreciate their intentionality. Considering how temperament ties to temperature metaphors, the relational theme fits well. The EP cover has a globe, but I think of this album as a pyramid with the music as the base and the themes of relationships and temperature making the strong side walls.
All the Confidence in the World Gone Cold
I buy two or three albums a year. It’s cheaper to listen to everything on YouTube, but I still feel like I’m contributing to artist royalties by listening via their channels. So although World Gone Cold’s EP is free on Spotify, I’d pay for it, which is the highest praise I can give.
¹ As founder Mark Anthony testifies in the band’s bio.