Review Summary: War From a Harlots Mouth dropping the jazz and technicality for a sound that is truly dark. Making their heaviest and most thought out release thus far.
Eeriness, darkness, coldness, despair, and riffs
, this is how I would describe War From a Harlots Mouth's new record, Voyeur
in one sentence to anyone who asked. It seems that with each release from War From a Harlots Mouth they have changed, for better or worse, their progression thus far is quite logical. It features no odd change of pace, or any album that is just rather out of place(cough, cough, Heritage
). Which, honestly is the best thing you would want from any band. They improve and build on their sound to keep things fresh and interesting without dividing their fan base. So far, the band has gone from technical grind-influenced metalcore to the now sludgy and dark metalcore that rules Voyeur
. For Voyeur
, War from a Harlots Mouth is:
Nico Webers - Vocals
Daniel Oberlander - Guitar
Simon Hawemann - Guitar
Filip Hantusch - Bass
Paule Seidel - Drums
Starting off on Voyeur
, the biggest difference between it and War From a Harlots Mouth's previous records is the absence of the jazz breaks that made this band something unique. Not only did they incorporate jazz breaks in the past, but they were also extremely well done. To replace them though is orchestration of strings. The intro track, "Origin", features only a string section that sets the mood for the entire record, creating a very intense and dark feel. When "Origin" comes to a close you are immediately thrown into the juggernaut that is "Vertigo", and you get a good taste of what War From a Harlots Mouth brings to the table in 2012. You are instantly presented shifting riffs from Daniel and Simon as Paule brings his drum heroics to full. And really, Paule is one of the highlights of Voyeur
. He seamlessly bridges blasts beats and groovy kick drum acrobatics like it is no problem. He also provides an excellent backbone to all the quiet parts throughout the album.
Lyrically, this album this album discusses the effect of society on an individual and the eventual downfall of modern society. Nico does a great job with the lyrics, they fit the music and are very professional sounding. However, he is not the most intelligible vocalist whilst screaming so one may have to read the lyrics while listening to get the full effect, but regardless, he is a powerful screamer and he fits the instrumentals perfectly. One place that War From a Harlots Mouth changes up their formula on Voyeur
is with the song, "The Black Lodge". It's slower than most of the songs on Voyeur
and features a great guitar solo. It's not by any means a wanky guitar solo or anything of the sort. It's very melodic and thoughtful, easily evoking emotion in the listener. Directly succeeding "The Black Lodge", is another song with the string section, "Beyond Life and Death", clocking in at just over a minute, the song shows that War From a Harlots Mouth really have made the addition of a string section a part of their music. However, unlike other metalcore or post-hardcore bands, they do not use the strings overtop the regular instrumentation. So rather they have sections that only feature the strings. And not any sections that combine the two sides of War From a Harlots Mouth. This makes things seem a little less gimmicky and also facilitates the eerie and dark nature of Voyeur
The next track in the lineup is "To the Villains", which was the second song released early from Voyeur
, and it is easy to see why. It's packed with energy and excitement, and features a great galloping breakdown to finish it off. This is where the listener begins to realize Voyeur's
greatness. Tracks seven through eleven are all wonderful metal tracks, and track ten, otherwise known as "Krycek" shows a lot of experimentation from the band as they further their sludge sound and keep the darkness dimed. Excluding the string section songs, "Krycek" is easily the darkest and most thought out song here. It goes back and forth from unsettling ambience to 8-string guitar grooves that will make any metalhead bop their head. And then it ends, with a gunshot, literally. Moving right on to another standout track, "Scopophobia", which features very Chino Moreno like clean vocals, which were previously unheard from War From a Harlots Mouth, except for their cover of "Hexagram" by Deftones from the self titled album. Nico does an absolutely incredible job and delivers them perfectly. They somehow manage to fit the context of the song and make it very unique.
It must be mentioned that the production on this album plays in favor of the band. It is similar in sound of the their 2010 release MMX
, but it sounds a bit less processed and is overall an improvement. It aids in Voyeur's
dark nature in that everything sounds just a bit, well, evil
. Even the bass, which is audible for a decent amount of time, sounds monstrous. And the production of the strings is great, they sound extremely creepy and much of that is to the fairly low amount of production on them, they sound raw and powerful, whilst still being eerie and creepy. And since this is the follow up to MMX
, which saw War From a Harlots Mouth switch to 8-string guitars and bringing their Meshuggah influence to the table, I cannot go on without addressing this: This is really nothing like Meshuggah, the guitar tone isn't really djent
at all. So I'd say they've done a good job escaping that generalization. The only qualms one may have with this album are the lack of bass, lack of range in Nico's screams and the abundance of energy they used to have. However, in regards to the last point, one can easily tell that energy was not their main focus here as creating a lush atmosphere of fear and despair was. Also, despite Nico's lack of range, he is powerful and commanding, exactly what you want from any screamer.
To reiterate myself, not only is this a logical progression for War From a Harlots Mouth, but a desired one. There are only a handful of bands I can think of that have successfully changed their sound in some major way and not have it become something entirely different and having some people love it and others despise it. So, in 2012 War From a Harlots Mouth not only succeed in staying relevant, but also in staying fresh.