Review Summary: Technical but inconsistent, War From A Harlot's Mouth produce an album that is flawed in a number of aspects. However, beneath the mediocrity and predictability lies an album that holds host to some great moments.
War From A Harlot's Mouth are a pretty interesting band. The name alone is enough to make people either interested or deterred - nevertheless, the music the band creates is definitely an eclectic mix of genres. Whilst it seems fashionable to insert jazzy parts into grind songs of late, War From A Harlot's Mouth are one of the bands who do it quite effectively. Essentially, the band is a wild hybrid of grind akin to The Number Twelve Looks Like You and the heavier side of hardcore and metalcore. Add in your jazz elements, amongst other quirks and you have your band.
Transmetropolitan is the band's first album and overall, it is quite a decent effort. Things start off with How to Disconnect From Your Social Surrounding In Half An Hour. A mouthful in itself, the music behind the title is what could be considered an earful. In just under two minutes, you're treated to a dish of weird time signatures, ridiculous vocal ranges, nifty drumming and brutal instrumentation. Oh yes, and the obligatory jazz breakdown. However, it works really well - all the instruments can be heard clearly and you can almost hark back to the days when Dillinger Escape Plan had that kind of kick-ass ingenuity. Mayhem of course follows - stop start rhythms bounce all over the place. In all honesty, it seems a little messy at first but once you're used to WFAHM and the style they employ it all begins to make a bit more sense.
The band's metalcore influence is shown adequately on Heeey Let's Start a Band, mostly the intro. A typical "jun-wee" riff is used to bring us into the bulk of the song, which again is a mish mash of guitar riffs, breakdown sections and vocal silliness. Well, by silliness, I mean the sheer number of sounds created - the pig squealing on this track is quite possibly the most unique I've ever heard. But the flaws of the album do begin to show, even this early on. I have no problem with technical and complex song compositions. But when guitar riffs go seemingly nowhere and the structure of a song is barely there, I do begin to get irritated. The technical skill of the band and indeed the musicianship is undeniable. But a romp through insanity isn't as good as a romp through structured insanity, if you get what I mean.
Transmetropolitan is a mixed bag - some tracks are great and some are very boring and uninteresting. The District Attorneys Are Selling Your Blood is a decent song but it's riddled with far too many mindless breakdown riffs. It isn't until the outro that I began to take any notice really. Trife Life is an odd electronic track, based around a looping drum beat with piano and some horns over the top. On some days, I'd call it filler. But it's actually a pretty enjoyable track and a break from all the complexity of WFAHM on an average working day. Fighting Wars With Keyboards showcases some exceptionally fast double bass drum work. The riffs here are a bit more groovy and the song has definite structure, making it one of the album's highlights.
When a grind band make a song over seven minutes, it's either because they've decided to use loads of samples or opted for silence instead (that is always really stupid, I don't understand why bands do this). As for WFAHM, Mulder is a seven minute bore-fest with some cool bits, placed right in the middle of the album. Dissonant chords in a surprisingly basic time signature introduce the song - it isn't until a simple but effective guitar line comes in that things start to pick up. The shrieking vocals will undoubtedly be a hurdle for some - this is right into the Jacob Bannon range, except this guy can also do some gut wrenching lows too amidst his almost amusing pig squealing techniques. On occasions, he even employs the use of a more gruff, hardcore yell. Cut short, the guy can do a range of stuff - it's just that he isn't exceptionally brilliant at any of it, just very proficient. The clean sections near the end of Mulder are the only other interesting bits of the song - dreamy guitar riffs intertwine with some simple bass and hypnotic drumming. If it weren't for the distant screams in the background, this kind of section could easily fit into a more progressive style of music. It's just a shame that the final minute of the song is completely pointless.
The rest of Transmetropolitan is much like the first half of the album - if I were to describe it, I'd simply be repeating almost everything I said before. More breakdowns, more half time/double time sections and essentially more mediocrity to be fair. What gets me about WFAHM is that they have decent songs, with both awesome and dull bits. Things would be so much better if they just wrote decent songs with just awesome bits in them. I guess the jazzy breakdown in Thousands Compliments, One Answer is pretty sweet - the vocalist even sounds like Jeffrey Moreira from Poison the Well momentarily. The machine gun sample used in If You Want to Blame Us For Something Wrong Please Abuse This Song to synchronize up with the guitars is quite original too. Luckily, Riding Dead Horses Is A Fu
cking Curse proves itself to be quite possibly the best song on the album - finally, some structure is evident and the use of odd time signatures doesn't seem out of place. Rhythm and riff wise, everything is a step up from the previous tracks. Which leads me to inevitable question - why can't the whole album be like this? The grind/metalcore section at the end is also notable - some will detest it. I on the other hand, definitely enjoy it. Put simply, it's complete chaos. But it's very listenable in a peculiar way. Just as I thought it couldn't get just slightly better, it did. The title track is also a gem - good guitar riffs, restricted use of cliche deathcore/grind act elements and a definite structure makes way for one of the more memorable offerings on Transmetropolitan.
In conclusion, WFAHM have made a decent album. It's not a brilliant debut album but it is a good one. Unfortunately, most people will dismiss this after one or two listens as another scene-grind band. However, beyond the typical genre cliches and trademarks is a band that show promise and a great deal of talent. They just need to learn the definition of the word structure in order to become consistent.
How to Disconnect From Your Social Surrounding In Half An Hour
Thousand Compliments, One Answer
Riding Dead Horses is a ***ing Curse