If you’ve made the wise choice to head to 2000 Trees this weekend then you’ll want to add 12.25pm on Friday at The Cave Stage to your Clashfinder, because mighty Rugby-based rockers wars are a must-see act on this year’s line-up.
The band has mastered the art of merging brutal screamed vocals with huge riffs and moments of superb melodic rockiness, and crafted a sound that I personally cannot get enough of.
The quintet of impressive screaming frontman Rob Vicars, Sam Barnard on clean vocals and guitar, drummer Lee Tysall, guitarist Matt Burns and bassist Rich Bennett released debut album We Are Islands, After All earlier this year, and it’s one of the finest collection of tracks I’ve heard all year.
One of the most impressive things about the album is that what you hear on it is bang on what you hear live, as I found out seeing them support Acres and He Is Legend a couple of months ago.
As Rob told me at that show: “There’s a rawness to the album that’s part of the live show, we want to keep them really close together and I hope a lot of it transfers over – there’s barely anything on the album that you won’t hear live.”
And Rich added: “When we went into the studio we were always very conscious to not do anything on the record that we can’t replicate live so it’s all about keeping it very raw and stripped back, with the riffs as big as possible.”
That feeling comes across in aplenty on the album, which is track after track of huge screamed sections plateaued by insatiably catchy singalong vocals and bone-breaking riffery. That’s the case from the outset, kicking off with the big riffs and brutal screamed opening vocals of The Art Of Not Knowing that immediately have you bouncing your head along. It drops into a melodic chorus with driving drums and big guitar chords that dive straight down into a big chunky riff. Check out the video below:
Next up Snows and Skies kicks off with a choppy opening riff that jumps into a big moshy heavier version through a prolonged burst of screamed vocals. That’s followed by the superb melodic chorus that begins with the ridiculously catchy lyrics “This terrible mind it says terrible things, that I am a monster and I’m bound by these strings.”
If you fancy something extra special at 2000 Trees, that could well be wars being joined onstage by Hundred Reasons frontman Colin Doran. The vocalist collaborated on the awesome, hard-hitting That By Discord Things Increase, and is also performing a set at the festival on Saturday – so fingers crossed he’ll pop in to join wars too. Check it out in the lyric video below:
Equally good is the next track Still Waters Run Deep which kicks off very Architects-like with lingering guitars and brutal screams before launching into a massive blast of guitars as the screams continue. This is a huge moshpit pleaser that you can’t help but smash your head along to and then join in the big melodic lyrics of “But the home is where the heart is” in the chorus, which is followed by more breakneck, massively low-tuned guitars and screams.
More huge tracks follow, with a particular standout being most recent single Hailing Distance, which starts out with clean vocals over a fast-paced riff that soon launches into heavier riffing and huge screamed vocals. That leads into an infectiously melodic chorus with low-tuned bouncy riffs abounding in the background, then flowing into big screamed vocals and high-pitched guitar.
This is an incredible debut album, fusing catchy choruses with brutal screams and incredibly hooky riffs. To find out more watched the ‘making of’ video below:
Listening to wars I find it impossible not to feel some attachment towards their music, as much as it’s big and powerful it’s equally huge on emotion. As Rob told me: ” There’s a message behind every song, we don’t get into the political thing but there’s an edge of it. wars is meant to be an internal thing, and there’s a lot of mental health stuff on the album, as I think even in a lighter way everyone deals with some level of anxiety – and that’s kind of what we’re talking about.
“But on a bigger scale these political issues, which are obviously really rife at the moment, are something we’re almost purposely not talking about but may do at some stage. What it all comes down to is the fact that we’re all internal creatures and everybody lives inside themselves and has their own perspective, and how that connects and manifests is a lot of what’s gone into this album.”
Rich adds to this image of what makes wars feel particularly special and easy to relate to, by telling me: “We Are Islands, After All is a metaphor for how everybody deals with their own internal battles and their own physical wars that no-one else can see but everybody has. So on that level it’s really cool that the album and the songs have meaning, a message and a theme and that people come along and relate to it.
“You know, the live show is one thing but to see guys down the front singing their heart out to every single word and actually relating to it is the most jarring and amazing thing. That’s why we do it. The money (to which Rob chips in with ‘what money?’), the merchandise, whatever, that’s bye-the-bye, but seeing people investing in understanding it is everything.”
If you’re heading to 2000 Trees then catch wars on The Cave Stage at 12.25pm on Friday. Otherwise, follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and check out their music on YouTube and Spotify or buy the album through Spinefarm Records.