War Brides is a reference to foreign women who married the military during the war. It’s also the name of a Chicago punk band that are as loud as war on your earphones. War Brides formed in 2010 they are Grant Craig on guitar, Richie Townsend on drums, Justin Widloe playing the bass and Tristan Widloe on vocals; they mix the fury of hardcore with the melody of rock, with agonisingly painful vocals that occasionally pierce your eardrums. They have previously come up with Terminus, a four-track EP and the longer-lasting six tracks of Burden; now in 2017 they have released their first full length album called Regrets which keeps the volume dial cracked up to max.
Regrets has nine blistering tracks to leave you out of breath. While it’s not all at 100mph, it starts with the angst-ridden vocal on the first track Clean backed by squalling guitar and crashing cymbals, despite all that’s going on it still manages a funk-type rhythm running through it to the end. This album definitely has a lot going on and at times feels like there are two bands playing here, the loud hardcore noise at the forefront bounding the insistent beat like a sledgehammer on your door with the rock band in the background giving the rhythm that makes it just that bit different from others. The vocals are hard hitting, in your face, aggressive and painful, at times in fact they feel like a distant cry for help, and other times it’s like a war cry coming to get you. A track that may seem a little disjointed is track two, Day Drinking, where it builds up slowly and quietly to an attack on conventional song arrangements seemingly all playing out of sync with each other with a harsh vocal up front. It’s not a track that I feel I can take to and doesn’t work for me; in fact it makes me uncomfortable at times thinking that’s just not sounding right.
There are not many subjects that can’t be incorporated in to a song: Halitosis is a slower affair with the twanging, heavy beat dominating the track and the guitar’s intermittent wailing jumping in and out at you. The same can be said for Ode to an Old Man where they take an even slower and more laid-back route; with the guitar still jumping in and out the heavy beat. The vocal this time is clearer and more recognisable, but it takes another twist being antagonistic, argumentative and raw suffering to the end. Back on the gas with Human Cow and Thyme which don’t really stand out on the album for me, they don’t have the individualism of the rest of the tracks but do still incorporate War Brides’ sound. The album closes with Marrow a relentless offering of sounds that brings you to an isolated vocal wailing and dictating to the end of the album.
War Brides seem to have created a sound that may separate them from other hardcore bands, mixing noise and rock riffs behind a loud uncompromising vocal. I think the album has moments where it works and works very well, just that there may not be enough there to put on a full album and for me the quality is lacking as it comes to an end. I’m sure there will be more from War Brides in the future as the quality of sound they can make is worth hearing more of, although there are a few weaker tracks on the album in my opinion that is not a rare occurrence for any band really.