Audiowar – Warhead


Many will know Audiowar through London industrial-techno duo, K-Nitrate. In fact, Audiowar started as a side-project from their parent band so they would not feel ‘burned out by writing exclusively 4/4 club music.’ Apart from 2004’s acclaimed Negativity album, releases from Audiowar remained sporadic while the duo of Graham Raynor and Christian Weber concentrated on K-Nitrate. Now they’re back with their first record of new material since 2017’s Fracture EP, and they’re determined to give their hard beats a rush of punk attitude.

There’s no doubt the aim here is to coat the synths and bass lines in the aggressive minor key attack of classic Prodigy. Opener, ‘Warhead’, is the type of blaster you’d expect to find on The Football Factory soundtrack from 2004 with its chunky mid-range loop resembling a digeridoo. The way they incorporate Kraftwerk’s vocoder phrasing and laser synths over the top gives it a trippy vibe at odds with the dirty groove. It leads into the electro-punk swagger of ‘Slacker’, another banger for the cybergoth dance floor with atonal hooks that sound like the overworked modem of a desktop computer from the late 1990s. You might say it’s more akin to the distorted synth patterns of the Chemical Brothers with a psychedelic change of key at 02:45 seconds. This is the moment when you come back from the bar with a drink and cannot find your friends in the haze of glow sticks and strobe lights. Is everybody on MDMA apart from you?

The Scream Blast Repeat readership will find ‘Idle Hands’ most to their liking. This one teases with a metallic guitar sample and threatens to go all-out Die Krupps until they second-guess you with a hard techno synth hook. Substitute distorted guitar chords for synths on ‘Take Control’ and you have a piece of primitive punk rock injected with the hard beats of Prodigy. It should be a satisfying experience, but this is the point where Audiowar become predictable. For a band showcasing new material for the first time in four years, you’d expect more risk-taking. Instead, they hark back to the Britain of 2004 when a few glimpses of the European aggro of Wumpscut would enhance the sound. Now you’re in a club and your friends are still nowhere to be found. You inspect the label on the back of your Smirnoff Ice and ask why you’re drinking this shit. Why do all the men have skinheads and the women wear fur scarves? It’s like a worrying dream where Tony Blair is still Prime Minister and young bankers in suits are flashing their cash around.

Warhead is a lively EP with much to commend it, but one cannot help but feel something as novel as vocals could elevate it to a higher plain. We need more than the hard beats and booming bass if we’re to transcend beyond the here and now of an adrenaline-fueled buzz.

JVB


Verdict


Release Date: 21/02/2021

Record Label: Self Released

Standout tracks: Slacker, Idle Hands

Suggested Further Listening: Prodigy – The Fat of the Land (1997), Die Krupps – I (1992), Chemical Brothers – Singles 93-03 (2003)