Review: wars – As Within /// So Without

Rugby’s wars evolved from their previous incarnation, reset, and laid down a challenging marker with their first EP in 2015.

And So The Sea Will Claim Us All defined the sound of the band, whose rip-roaring emotional hardcore emerged pretty much fully formed and backed up the talk about expansive introspection.

We are, they told us, all wars.

The following year brought with it the first wars full-length. We Are Islands, After All was different. It was more taut, somehow cleaner. It reviewed well, testament to the fact that all of the constituent parts of wars were present and correct.

Yet that first EP had magic in it, something difficult to define. Something intangible that gave it the edge over the album. Something dark that made it wars. So my biggest wish for the Warwickshire five-piece was that a little more of that warsiness find its way into the next release.

As Within /// So Without is the second EP from wars and, as a longstanding fan, I’m not expecting to find 13 minutes of music this year that make me happier. This band, accomplished from the off, have produced four songs right up there with their best.

Opener ‘Scorn And Fidelity’ underpins the trademark vocal interplay of Rob Vicars and Sam Barnard with bags of aggression and a low-level groove that shows off the band’s ability to write a riff.

‘Little Death’ combines frantic screamo with one of wars’ deadliest weapons: slow, minimalist, spacious passages that so few bands can pull off to any standard. Even fewer get close to this level.

The penultimate song is ‘On Being More’ and it tugs at the same thread, successfully again, and follows it up with a thumping beatdown riff that’s teed up by a burst of gang vocal that just feels so right.

As Within /// So Without ends with its shortest track. ‘In A Mirror, Dimly’ packs a gorgeous, quirky opening riff and Barnard’s soaring vocals take centre stage. It’s a fabulous song and it’s not alone.

The next wars release has a tough act to follow.

As Within /// So Without is out now on A Wolf At Your Door Records.

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Chris Nee