ALBUM: wars – We Are Islands, After All

Release Date: January 27th 2017
Label: Spinefarm Records


Rugby based quintet wars fly the metalcore flag high with their debut album, ‘We Are Islands, After All’. This is a solid album; it won’t win any points for originality within the genre, but it is certainly very listenable, and doesn’t let up on the furiosity promised at the beginning right until the very end.

The record kicks off with ‘The Art Of Not Knowing’, a track that is (appropriately enough, given the band’s name) very punchy. Already, the traditional singing/screaming elements are right at the forefront, and coming out with a kind of force that seems elemental at times. ‘That By Discord Things Increase’ is, if you can get over another ludicrous title, another great lesson in soft brutality.

The band sounds their best when those two aforementioned parts are working like the legs of a millipede, in tandem on either side of a structure, pushing the entire thing forward in great, fleshy waves, and nothing illustrates this more vividly than two halves of the fantastic ‘Still Waters Run Deep’. When they first come into play, one after another, they’re like two of your mutual friends that you can’t imagine will ever get on coming to the same party, but by the end (once all present have had time to adjust and do the small talk) are making out in the corner.

The album has a Marmite factor. If you like metalcore, you’ll be listening through to the end, as ‘Charcoal Days’ plays the record out in a thoughtful manner, peppering in the first instances of clean guitar like the band’s free trial of their distortion plugin ran out a day too early. If you don’t, you’ll probably have been fatigued long before, and there’s nothing on offer here to change your mind.

In reversing the old adage, “No man is an island”, wars have created a bit of a contradiction. ‘We Are Islands, After All’ is a headline that implies stubborn resistance, self-sufficiency, and a sense vulnerability, but also in pluralising the original statement, they’ve implied that instead everybody is an island. That would be a confusing enough statement were it not for the fact that musically, this record couldn’t be a better example of collaboration and combined thinking.

Indeed, this album would sink below the waves if it wasn’t from a careful balance of sounds from lots of different people all relying on each other. Maybe they’re all islands, but have, like, good and regular ferry services between them?

Written by Chris Yeoh (@Chris_Yeoh)

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