Before listening to a single note of WAR by The Writing South I had a feeling this was going to be powerful music. I mean look at the album art and the album is called WAR. Brendan Cavanaugh is the man behind the music. He explains the album was “a six-year journey, with most of the songs having been written in the midst of a formative spiritual journey and a tumultuous personal event.”
The album is relatively short coming in at thirty-six minutes but I for one always appreciate brevity. Maybe I need to meditate more or I’m just a by-product of this society where our threshold for engaging outside stimuli is constantly being ramped up but it’s hard to just listen to an album from beginning to end especially if it goes past the fifty-minute mark. WAR is epic enough that I think the thirty-six minutes is all that was needed.
The album starts with “Won” which is short enough to be an intro and contains fully realized vocal melodies that are juxtaposed against heavy hitting drums and reverb laced guitars. Cavanaugh’s vocals reach a crescendo on this song which dissipates and then seamlessly flows into “For Who I Never Was.”
“For Who I Never Was” is a mix of pop and indie rock. You can hear shades of bands like Coldplay but also Arcade Fire. Either way the song has a lot of upbeat, cathartic energy. The drums are tribal, the guitars soar and the lyrics felt like declarations of someone who is realizing some sort of truth about themselves or the universe itself.
“No Matter What” does not let up. There is a mix of white noise, guitar, drums and an all around motivational feeling you get when listening to this song. “Feral” finds some really intense crescendos that felt closer to post-rock while “I’ve Got Fire for a Soul” is a short ambient piece. “Ain’t No Giant,” “Burnin’ Like a Coal” and “Return” return to this energy that is striving for the most epic of heights. The album ends with “Maw” but don’t miss “Viscosity Bonus Demo” which doesn't sound like a demo.
This is an album that demands your attention. I’m not sure it’s music you’ll want to play if you want to have a conversation over dinner. The point I’m getting at is that it doesn't feel like background music to me.
WAR is certainly grand in scope and vision. Under the right set of circumstances, songs like these can feel life affirming. Recommended.
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