Saturday, August 25, 2007

World Against World - Until the Day Breaks and the Shadows Flee Away (1998)

If it wasn't already quite obvious, I'm going for variety in this blog. I don't want to post all of a single style or a certain group of styles: that would be boring. No, variety is the spice of life, & I like my food spicy. As such, sometimes I like to dabble in music styles & genres I'm not intimately familiar with so I can expand my musical vocabulary.

That brings us to this band. World Against World is a band that seemed to spring out of nowhere. In reality, they formed from the ashes of Christian punk band Spudgun. Spudgun were a solid, if unremarkable punk band. The guys in the band probably realized this & knew that if they were going to be effective, they had to get their own vibe. So, when the band broke up & reformed into World Against World, they decided to explore a sub-genre of punk not explored in the Christian music scene thus far: "crust punk". I must admit, the only crust punk band I'd even heard of before was Amebix, and they are thought of as one of the originators of the style. World Against World (heretofore to be referred to as WAW) are different than Amebix, in that they are probably more true punk than Amebix, since they had elements of thrash/speed metal in their sound. WAW have that gritty, noisy sound that "crust punk" is known for, though at times it can border on the metallic.

Interestingly enough, I purchased this at a Christian book store not known for carrying heavy bands. In the past, the heaviest thing they had carried on a regular basis was Skillet, and that was against the will of the store owner, but at the insistence of a couple employees who knew the youth would buy it if she stocked it. I remember they had Crimson Thorn's "Unearthed" on cassette for a short time as well, though I regrettably didn't pick that up. Thus, I was taken aback when I saw the display in the store which included a CD & small poster (probably the only promotional materials BulletProof Music printed up for a band as unique in the scene as WAW). I listened to the CD with no expectations (except that it might be heavy music, judging from the sleeve), and came away with a lot of thoughts. My initial reaction based on the first track was, this is what Horde would sound like if it was a punk band. For the uninitiated, Horde is a "holy unblack" metal band (the Christian antithesis of a "black" metal band). Horde is old-school black metal, fast, loud, noisy, dissonant, and raw. This could be the punk synonym of that ethos. This is loud, fast, noisy, dissonant, and raw. The vocals are nigh unintelligible in places, the bass rumbles loudly, the guitar cuts a swath through things, and the sharp snare drum pierces when it's hit particularly hard.

The other major similarity to Horde here is the song titles: Jayson Sherlocke (the man behind Horde) had an affinity with long song titles, & these guys must share in that passion. The first track, "Disrupted Darkness and Scattered Spirits" opens with a deceptively melodic, yet foreboding guitar line, until the music picks up & the vocalist jumps in screaming "Terror, terror, terror!" Indeed, the U-Card has the word "terror" written all over it on the inside, so when you remove the CD, that's what you see. "Our Nation of Thoughtlessness Celebrates Immorality While Seeking Independence From But Nevertheless Finding A Plague of Sorrow" (2nd track) also opens with a slow, churning riff that morphs into a mid-paced riff with rolling bassline (with almost an Steve Harris/Iron Maiden-like gallop to it), and the screaming vocal line. Mid-way through is a somewhat metallic bridge section with a scale riff. "The Hope of the Wicked Has Become Despair" is a fast song that opens with a near blast beat, then settles into an interesting drum groove alongside a constant guitar line. "A Somber Tale of Repentance" opens with background noise that sounds like voices, and an interesting, ominous guitar line that also cuts out here & there. If you listen with headphones, you can tell the guitars here are double-tracked for effect, and it works nicely. The guitar is extra distorted here, as are the vocals. There are very few lyrics on this track, and the vocalist uses an echo effect to draw out the sound. "The Destruction of the World In All of Her Glorious Splendor" opens to the sound of a child's toy (like the wind-up teddy bears that would play a tune), then blasts into a heavy guitar riff and fast drumming. More screaming vocals here, and lost of distortion. This song also has some double-bass drumming, something that many punk bands don't use because it's a convention often associated with metal. "Insomnia For the Dead" opens with a fade-in on the drums, and then blows into a slow high-pitched riff & vocals, then settles into a groove along a nice drumline. "We Dance With the Moment on the 2nd Story Of Finality, Unaware of the Flames Slowly Spreading Up the Stairs" opens with a very dissonant, distorted guitar line, distorted bass, and simple drum line. Then, the tempo picks up just a tad & goes into a slow hardcore type of burn. This is probably the longest track on the album, and goes through more "movements" than any other. It also doesn't have vocals until the song is nearly 3/4 of the way through. The vocals in this track are extremely distorted & processed, and are barely understandable. "Deserted Concern For the Irrefutable" opens with a simple drum pattern, and into another slow, ominous riff, then into a cool drum groove and faster riff. This is the 2nd longest song on the album. The closing song, "One Final Attempt at Righting Our Wrongs" evokes images of goth music, as a barely audible organ can be heard amid a smattering of sound effects, only to come to a head in ambient noise at the end of the track.

At just 35 minutes, this is a short album, but not one easily digested. If you're not into noise hardcore, or noise punk, this can be a hard pill to swallow. If you're adventurous, however, this album can be very rewarding. Lyrically, the band delves into some pretty heavy stuff; all backed up by scripture references. In fact, the only place in the packaging where a scripture reference doesn't appear is on the CD itself, as well as on the U-Card where the song listing is at. Otherwise, there is scripture referenced almost everywhere else. These guys are serious to the bone, and it shows in the performances. This is not silly, fun punk music like the Ramones, MxPx or Slick Shoes. Rather, this is a serious band with serious lyrics & music. I would even recommend that this not be played for young kids, because some of the lyrical themes touch on Biblical passages that younger kids wouldn't understand or would find confusing.

Interestingly enough, I read in an online forum a couple years later that WAW had broken up & reformed into an unblack metal project, so my initial reaction of "Horde punk" was not entirely inaccurate. It seems the WAW guys & myself were on the same wavelength on that one. In any event, this is unique in the Christian music scene, and a welcome stylistic diversion from all the tough-guy hardcore bands & pop-punk groups that seem to "horde" the spotlight (sorry, pun intended).


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