by Scott Hefflon
“Uncategorizable” is a media myth. Most bands sound, if ya generalize a bit, like another band. At best, a combination of two bands. It took me ’til mid-way through the fifth song of Pain, the long-overdue domestic release of the record Britain and the rest of Europe have been enjoying since 1995, to figure out what Dub War is about. It’d be incorrect to say it sounds like Bad Brains, although some songs have funky punk elements. And the Rage ATM comparison only covers a few songs’ repetitive choruses. (Rage’s vocalist always sounded too much like Ugly Kid Whitfield for my taste anyway.) Ditto with the more metal rapcore of Stuck Mojo – it only lasts for a verse or two before it strays… Then you’ve got some barrel-chested funk/pop similar to Living Colour, and, shit, is that powermetal? None of this really touches upon the electronic aspects of Dub War (perhaps somewhat similar to the revamped Pop Will Eat Itself?) despite the fact that each song trips over looping lines, a bit o’ hip hop flavoring, and I don’t even want to get into the jazz lounge nightmare. By the psychedelic guitar wash intro of “Nations,” similar to, um, Sky Cries Mary, I finally realized there’s only band that could possibly combine all of the aforementioned elements aside from, obviously, Dub War. And that band is/was Faith No More. Whew!
While you may still have a sugary-sweet taste left in your mouth from the over-played singles of The Real Thing, Angel Dust was heavier, more complex, more thoughtful, less candy corny, and therefore, less popular. Dub War knows how to write catchy choruses for songs that are otherwise arty to the point of huh? That’s a compliment of the highest order. It doesn’t sound like easy listening radio drivel, but it’s got hooks that stick in your head as infuriatingly as (insert name of despicably catchy song here). And, while singular unto itself, if you can picture Mike Patton nasally crooning “Indecision clouds my vision,” you’ve got a pretty good idea of what I’m rambling about. In other words, Dub War actually is one of the rare bands that is distinctly themselves and avoids getting pigeon-holed by religiously sticking to their own formula.
Usually, when a band is dubbed (excuse the pun) Album Oriented Rock, it’s because nothing on the record is really strong enough to be a single. But look, if you hear a song on the radio by Dub War (and in a marginally fair world, you should), trust me, you’re only getting a fraction of what the band is about. No, really. Dub War jumps genres like a CD player set on random play, filled with a wide variety of discs, and I mean that in a good way.