wars – 'A Hundred Shivers' Album Review
1. So The Soul
2. But The Light Trembles In
3. A Fragile Thing
4. Grief, They Named It
5. A Hell Behind My Eyes
6. High Art, Low Culture
7. I Don’t Feel A Thing
9. A Fog Of Feeling
10. Only Monsters
11. As Within, So Without
It’s been 2 years since Wars released their last EP 'As Within///So Without'.
Now it’s time for their new album 'A Hundred Shivers' to finally get a release – This is where things get a little difficult for me as I’m personally friends with the guys in wars (I first came across them supporting Still Remains in 2017), so with that in mind I must remain non-biased in this review. With 'A Hundred Shivers', wars took the interesting step of revealing the album in small chunks or Chapters since March 2020. For some fans this would have been great as they would have got to absorb some new music over the course of a year. Whilst I would normally be all over a strategy like this I decided to wait until the album was ready for release (I wanted to hear all the songs as the full album). So where are wars now with their (often labelled difficult) second album.
wars have grown up and evolved from 'We Are Islands, After All'. Opening track, 'The Soul' throws up some rather interesting juxtapositions with the music and vocals by Rob/Sam. There is a lot going on here with various layers that will leave you hearing different parts over time. Whilst the heavy parts are super heavy there is a level of restraint that made me think of the Deftones.
'Geranium' – Opens with some nice delay effect laden guitars before the guitars kick in. It’s interesting to hear Rob scream over a track that isn’t the most distorted wars have ever done – This is where I feel wars have grown and are taking some chances with their song writing.
'Grief' – A groovy catchy riff opens this one again we’re treated to more ambient guitars and some lush synths before the heaviness comes back in the chorus. wars really have stepped it up as 'Grief' is catchy as hell and they really play well with the loud/quiet dynamic. It’s also an added bonus that Sam sings a gloriously hook laden chorus.
'A Fragile Thing' – features good use of electronics give the song a good foundation from which to build on. Guitarists Sam & Matt play off each other well in this track and there are some real heavy riffs on this track.
'A Hell Behind My Eyes' – opens with a beautifully eerie guitar intro that explodes when the rest of wars join in. Despite being the most intense and heaviest track on the album the ambient guitar is still prominent throughout the track. Rob sounds like he is about to explode as he screams with an intensity not heard before (on the 1st couple of verses). Even when the guitars ease off sightly Rob still sounds like a man in agony. This track is the highlight of the album for me as it has the perfect balance of ambient sounds and heaviness.
'High Art Low Culture' – wars play to their strengths here with great vocal interplay by Rob/Sam as the song goes through several tempo changes before stripping everything back to those ambient guitars. Once more just as you expect wars to be easing off, they smash you in the face with another wall of heaviness.
'I Don’t Feel A Thing' – Starts with an interesting synth sound and continues with the guitars building on it. There are also some sweet catchy riffs going on in the background of this song. wars do the unexpected here by using the synths to create breakdowns – It makes a huge change from lots of bands just slowing a riff down to make it sound heavier.
'Murmurs' – This is one of those songs that shows how much wars have grown as song writers over the last few years. There are numerous layers to this song and you’ll be hearing different things going on with repeated listens. It’s also probably the most accessible track on the album.
'A Fog Of Feeling' – Another intense song that changes tempos as well as dynamics. Sometimes wars are at their heaviest when the guitars aren’t chugging constantly as it allows the vocals to really stand out more. I was surprised at how quickly this song went by as I was hoping it would go on a little longer.
'Only Monsters' – A mid-paced groove drives this song, as the verse kicks in the guitars ease off slightly to allow the song to breathe but it still retains its heaviness. For me, it comes a close second to 'A Hell Behind My Eyes' for being the best song on the album. '
As Within So Without', Interestingly the last song on the album is not another brutally heavy number it’s an acoustic based song which makes use of more ambient guitars. It’s a bit of a twist to the end of the album but it works brilliantly after the pounding of the previous 10 tracks.
My thoughts – 'With A Hundred Shivers' wars have clearly played to their strengths whilst also showing lots of progress when it comes to song writing. Yes, 'A Hundred Shivers' does clock in at less than 40 minutes, but it certainly doesn’t overstay its welcome (if anything it makes you want to just press play again from the beginning). I love the use of the ambient guitars and the dynamics that are all over this album as they create an interesting soundscape that sounds way larger than anything wars have done before. wars are very lucky to have to very competent vocalists with contrasting styles and they really use them well. If you’ve never heard of wars do yourself a favour and check out the songs, they have on their Youtube page as they are certainly worth an hour of your time to discover.
Tracks you really need to check out: Grief, A Hell Behind My Eyes, Only Monsters
wars have grown and taken a huge step forward with album #2 if there is any justice, 'A Hundred Shivers' will see wars start to receive more exposure from the UK press and attract more fans. Roll on album #3.
Website - weareallwars.com
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/weareallwars
Review - Aleutia Shannon