Whores. return with an album worthy of building on their noise rock legacy with – War. fucking rips.

Release date: April 16, 2024 | Independent | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Bandcamp

I never thought I’d get a chance to talk about Whores. at all on here. It’s been since 2016 that they released an album which is more than long enough to constitute a hiatus, official or unofficial, and the only real sign of life was a 2022 single drop that stirred wishes up yet again. That single, “Imposter Syndrome”, made it on this album two years later, and now we can all shut the hell up about wanting the band back.

War. is basically Whores. in HD. Things are markedly more clear in the production and sound quality department. Maybe some don’t like that extra polish, but it does them some favors to help the clarity of ravenous drum hits and the roar of the vocals come through unabated – don’t worry, the guitars are still fuzzy and buzzy. Where Gold. really put the noise in noise rock with feedback screeches and rougher production, War. tends to ride their stoner tendencies harder, something I’m totally fine with. All in all, it makes for what is my favorite album by the Atlanta trio by a fair margin.

At a pretty lean 33 minutes – a length that’s been greatly favored by me for an LP for a while now – Whores. don’t feel the need to get indulgent. Songs are mid-four minutes tops, quick, efficient; they move with an urgency, yet still relish in the groove of making this particular kind of noisy, punky rock. With a lot of noise rock going the way of Chat Pile, KEN mode, and Intercourse (all of whom I love), it’s good to see stalwarts like Whores. fly a banner for the more melodious side of things (maybe this is the hip-hop head in me talking, but I feel like that sensibility is indebted to the city they come from) while still being steeped in some malaise and rot lyrically, voicing all of our shortcomings, insecurities, and boiling rage.

This is a very particular balance to nail and nearly every song does a great job of it. “Malinches” opens War. up with driving stoner guitar and bass, a lighter instrumental tone compared to other songs, as it harangues against traitors and fakers. The title refers to malinchismo, the disowning of your own culture in favor of another, which itself refers to La Malinche, a woman of history known for betraying her people of the Aztec Empire to aid the Spanish Conquistadors as an interpreter in their violent, genocidal, colonial conquest of Central America. The term in all its forms is definitely meant as a pejorative among Chicano people especially and it’s a tone that comes across well in the track, particularly on the hook which repeats ‘I’ll cut you out!‘. It’s catchy and fun!

For something more dense and heavy, “Hieronymus Bosch Was Right” has your back. The instrumentation is blistering and the vocals from Christian Lembach are tough, probably his most intense on War., though that’s debatable. The drums from Douglas Barrett get special mention here too as they’re quite intense and busy – dude’s getting a workout for sure. Fuck it, let’s just mention bass from Casey Maxwell too because it’s always audible and doing its own thing, here creating a nice, bold melody as a foundation for the song. Somewhere in the middle is “Hostage Therapy” which is slow and low with some real groove to it, at least in the chorus as the verses peel the instrumental layers back to understated drums and cleaner staccato guitar strums to focus on the vocals. The momentum of it all feels nice and approachable, and the lyrics are pretty relatable to the erasure of picturesque, stable adult life that was shotgun blasted in the neck by late-stage capitalism:

I’m trapped, I’m detached
Domesticated, medicated
Begging for the scraps
This floor is rearranging
This roof is caving in
Please don’t leave a light on
I’m trapped in my own skin

Money’s tight, times are tough
Not enough, I’m not enough
I’m done!

Honestly, the only track that doesn’t meld well with the others to me is “The Death of a Stuntman”. It was fine enough as a single, but something about it feels off in the greater track list as it’s almost too stonery and not quite like something Whores. would normally produce. It’s like a Fu Manchu song snuck on the album – since War. was produced and engineered by Ryan Boesch who has worked with that band, that connection is probably tighter than I give it credit for. It’s a good song to be clear, it’s just the odd man out. Others like “Malinches” and “Back When I Was a Savage” fare better because you can still feel a palpable, patented Whores. edge™ to it. “The Death of a Stuntman” feels like it was made to be a single which is fine because it was a single so… can’t be mad at that?

That’s hardly enough to put any sort of blight on War. though. The album is remarkably effective and fun. Eight years since releasing anything substantiative and you have to wonder is the spark gone? Can past greatness be replicated or maybe even expanded on? The answers are no, yes, yeah actually, in that order in the case of Whores., meeting relatively high expectations with high execution that’s as Whores. as can be. And in case you thought they were all serious business, they end the album with “Savage Reprise” which has the guitar melody from “Back When I Was a Savage” played on what sounds like a Casio keyboard while a nicely enunciated voiceover acts as an audible liner notes statement about the album’s production credits to the physical layout designer. It’s cute and smirk-worthy, showing the band are still having a lot of fun with this.

If you’ve managed to duck this band and you’re a fan of cool, heavy, noisy, stonerish rock, they’re a must. I’d still recommend maybe checking out Gold. first, but then War. immediately after to see what I’m talking about with the growth and ability to keep this shit going with almost a decade break. It’s impressive and shows they still got a lot of steam left in them. I hope we won’t have to wait another eight (8) years for more from them, but even if we do, they’ve proven that time is just a construct and Whores. are forever. And let’s be honest, the world ain’t gonna be better by any measurable metric in the next decade and that will power the trio like a nuclear riff reactor.

David Rodriguez

David Rodriguez

"I came up and so could you, and fuck the boys in blue" - RMR

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