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There's nothing quite like the status quo. Now, to be fair, I'm as big an advocate for alien elements in metal music, but every once in a while, you want pure, unfettered, orthodox metal music to clean out your pipes like so much aural prune juice. It helps one to appreciate the ceremony of opposites taken on a more daily basis; like, say if you're a die-hard Arcturus fan who occasionally needs a Dark Funeral enema to ensure continuous proper black metal enjoyment. It's happened to all of us, so don't you dare deny it.
That's the kinda mindset I was brought into upon hearing War's latest (er, last...er, only) album...
There's no frilliness on this here album. No sugar-coating, no soft edges, no keyboards/clean singing/dual harmonic guitar leads, nada. This is some dirty, raw, punk-laced black fucking metal with all the nuances of a sledgehammer to the skull. Usually, grim-for-the-sake-of-grim black metal acts are dismissed on my end due to way too little going on in the way of songwriting and production, but this time around the lo-fi wickedness is augmented by some tasty riff work and arrangements, reminding me quite a bit of the addictive, staticy hell of, say, Dødheimsgard's "Monumental Possession" time and again. You get what you pay for, and for better or worse you won't find a better way to beat the ever-loving shit out of a good thirty minutes or so of your time. Thankfully only copied so few times by bands of lesser stock (I'm looking at you, Kommandant!), War's M-14-to-the-ears assault comes off as consistently fresh and devastating after successive listens, where the clusterfuck of barbed wired guitar riffs, pulsing blast beats and acid-laced shrieks bludgeon with reckless abandon...and even the whole unfinished and error-ridden production values come off as adolescently charming. A fine example of true, antagonistic, distorted blasphemy, it's a shame that this ended up being a single-album entity, as further material could be nothing if not eagerly devoured by the likes of myself, as the likes of "Kill God", "666", "Soldiers of Satan" and "Hell" showcase; just two-dimensional, by-the-books mayhem that goes for the jugular first chance it gets.
In the end, my expectations were pretty much shattered, as "We Are War" ended up being far better than the sum of its parts. This is the kind of thing I'll need to jump-start my need for metal that doesn't fuck around, and would recommend this for anyone hungry for the same.
War, hailing from Sweden, is an allstar-band formed by It (Abruptum, Ophthalamia), Mikael Hedlund (Hypocrisy, The Abyss), Blackmoon (Dark Funeral, Infernal) and Peter Tägtgren (Hypocrisy, Bloodbath, Arckanum etc.). The band was probably formed to run riot, none of the members ever played again in such a raw and violent Black Metal band. War was formed in 1997, the time when Sweden’s Black Metal scene hat one of its peaks. Before recording « We are War », some of the members left the band and new members joined, All (Abruptum, Vondur) and Impious (Infernal, In Aeternum). Lars Szöke (Hypocrisy, The Abyss) played the drums on « We are War »
The first time you’ll put the « We are War » album into your CD Player, you’ll experienc a feeling that one rarely get; the sensation when you’re totally surprised by the unexpected magnitude of something. That is what War cause, a sudden summoning of the most abysmal feelings that slumber in all of us. So sounds the music : An outbreak of the most inhuman and violent forces – mainly formed by the guitars which really sound like circular saws, drums which partly remind of a mix of Thrash classics like « Reign in Blood » and typical Black Metal blast drumming and fucking harsh vocals. The riffing often goes thrashy, so does the drums on tracks like « Execution », which will probably challenge many necks. What also really astonishes is the atmosphere on « We are War », you’ll feel displaced right into Satan’s army. Rarely a release exerts such a pressure onto the listener. No lyrics have been published, which is a pity. On the first album « Total War », vocals were modestly employed, but there are obviously more lyrics on this release. A last aspect that should simplify the decision to get this record : There’s a « Bombenhagel » cover (originally recorded by Sodom) on it. Burn in Hell !