Sixth in Sixes was a fantastic release by a band coming into its own, the type of release that makes you salivate in anticipation of a follow-up. It seems that the time for said follow-up has finally arrived, in the form of Wars, a 27-minute, 12-track blast from Xbxrx that attempts to continue to develop the band’s sound. Such attempts go for all but naught, however, as Wars squanders all of the good vibes that Sixth in Sixes worked so hard to develop with vocals that sound more whiny than aggressive. Sure, Xbxrx’s members can still play their instruments, and they play the hell out of them. Yet, for all the tightness and skill of the instrumentalists, things just tend to get repetitive, as none of the variety, none of the extra layers that marked the previous effort can be found here; this is riff, time change, riff, time change, three-second drum solo, time change, riffriffriffriffriff, end. Some tracks are longer than others, but all that means is that there’s time for a few extra time changes and riffs. And then there are the vocals… I didn’t realize how much I missed the screaming until fourth track “Here to Ruin the Party” was introduced with the album’s only instance of shredded larynx. After that sort of catharsis, the yelling that mars the rest of the album sounds trite at best. It’d be awfully short-sighted to say that Wars cancels Xbxrx’s chances of putting out the ultimate math-core masterpiece, but it’s certainly a step in the wrong direction.
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