Review Summary: Although it's not as good as albums like Sixth In Sixes, Wars is a notable progression for XBXRX.
XBXRX is a band that blends noise rock and hardcore punk to create something that in essence sounds like a more accessible version of a cross between the Locust and Arab on the Radar. This would make the band seem unoriginal or pointless but they in fact hit upon an idea that works to their favor. With songs that are more listenable and with lyrics that are becoming more intelligible, they seem like a more nuanced and developed band than a band like the Locust. They also are a band that holds up better on repeated listens. A band like the Locust, who rips through their “longer” albums in usually under 20 minutes, leaves the listener at times unfulfilled. XBXRX is what that would sound like if those ideas were expanded on into more slightly accessible song structures, without sacrificing any of the intensity or oddness of the previously mentioned bands.
Wars is notably different from past efforts by the band by the change in vocals. The lyrics to their songs, for the most part, are still difficult to translate but the delivery has slightly changed from screams to yelp like vocals. The record relies less on creating a chaotic atmosphere but instead creates a more focused and developed approach of their earlier sound. The chaotic breakdowns are still in place on this album but are given space to allow them to stand out more when they do occur. The result is something that is more reminiscent of hardcore punk than previous releases, which comes off well for the majority of the album. The angular and wiry riffs are complimented by a rhythm section that is sporadic and technical. Every so often speeding up or slowing down into a grinding wall of noise that would make bands who attempt to pull off a similar sound like Daughters sound tame by comparison. “Towers of Silence” is the longest composition clocking in at 3:14 and delivers probably the best performance of the album. The song starts slow before locking into chanting punk vocals with an uneasy driving musical undercurrent. The song eventually collapses into a barrage of instrumental noise that is a moment displaying the band at its most frenzied and accomplished.
Wars serves as a transitional album for XBXRX who is moving in a direction which they would later perfect on the 2009 album Un Usper. On that album, they would make the songs a bit more concise and focused yet kept the intensity that they had displayed throughout their career. Sixth in Sixes is a good introduction to the band but Wars shows them shedding some of their influences and creating something that is truly unique.