They’ve spent the past few years playing one-off support spots for some of the best bands in Britain today, including Hacktivist, Bury Tomorrow and Creeper. But in 2017, Rugby five-piece Wars have turned in an album in ‘We Are Islands, After All’ to make them essential headliners on the live circuit.
The relative youth of the band is a driving force of the record, demonstrated through its relentless energy. Opener ‘The Art of Not Knowing’ demonstrates their disbelief in half-measures, offering up mid-paced grooves designed with a packed venue of kids jumping in mind. Matt O’Grady’s (You Me at Six, Don Broco) production compliments these moments with crunchy rhythm guitar providing extra boosts of testosterone, which comes out in moments like the single note breakdown in the aptly named ‘Hills and Boulders’ since it feels like they’re shoving something dense as a mountain range into your ears.
The vocal interplay between frontman Rob Vicars and guitarist Sam Barnard plays a vital part in giving character to ‘We Are Islands, After All’. Recalling a poppier take on the vocal trade-offs in Being As an Ocean, Vicars’ aggression makes him the dynamo of the band, while Barnard provides soaring choruses, with tracks like ‘Snows and Skies’ and ‘Still Waters Run Deep’ delivered with a heart-on-sleeve affection.
The songs on offer on ‘We Are Islands, After All’ are enjoyable enough in a live setting with enough massive hooks to guarantee a crowd reaction to mirror their own energy. In the current climate of metallic hardcore bands, it’s not a game changer. But it’s still entirely the product of Wars’ and you can tell in their full-hearted performance how important this album is to them. And when 2017 brings more headlining opportunities their way, a lot more people are going to realise that as well.
’We Are Islands, After All’ by Wars is released on 27th January via Spinefarm Records.
Words by Andy Davidson (@AndyrfDavidson)