I owe War On Women an apology. This review was due months ago, but some shit circumstances came about and an unplanned hiatus was from Scene Point Blank was needed. The band deserved far better and I very much regret that I wasn’t around to give them the lauds and love upon Wonderful Hell’s release because had I been around to compile a top list of that unrelenting shitshow of the year that was 2020, Wonderful Hell would have been at the top. It’s just that good.
My husband, prepare for death
I gave you the time to repent
But time’s up, yeah, you have to go
The dynamics of this album become pretty fucking evident in the first 30 seconds of "Aqua Tofina". By the end of the song know immediately where they stand and they won’t suffer excuses gladly.
Hailing from Baltimore, WoW have come a long way from their 2012 Improvised Weapons e.p, which was a remarkably self-assured debut. But Wonderful Hell is some next-level shit. The musical content remains unabashedly hardcore while the lyrical content remains feminist AF thanks to frontwoman Shawna Potter. The lyrics remain every bit as angry as they did on the e.p. and why shouldn’t they. Yes, some chickens are finally, FINALLY coming home to roost but not with with the swiftness and severity as they should.
But to call Potter’s lyrics merely “angry” is dismissive. They’re not so much about rage as they are about accountability. Potter discusses this issue further in her book Making Spaces Safer: A Guide to Giving Harassment the Boot Wherever You Work, Play and Gather.
The book is, of course, written from the perspective of a working musician - but there’s plenty of common-sense steps to take to minimize harassment of any kind that can be utilized in many employment settings. With that said, anyone who’s been to a live show in the last, oh, 80 years knows that this book probably belongs not just on War on Women’s merch table, but on everyone’s merch table. Hell, bands should send it out with their rider before even getting to the venue.
Now, hardcore is admittedly not known as the most innovative of genres, but the band - founders Potter and guitarist Brooks Harlan, guitarist Jennifer Vito, Bassist Sue Werner and drummer Dave Cavalier stretch the parameters of the “core” label to create an amalgam of influences that, Hecate willing, will bring a new influx of listeners to fill up the venues once the band hits the road, which as of this writing may appear to be sooner rather than later. And with this being their 3rd full—length, War on Women have amassed enough tunes to provide what’s sure to be a tight, broad set worthy of welcoming in the fresh new era of live music. I guarantee tunes like "White Lies" and the title track will rip the roof off of everywhere they play.
Look, it’s been a long goddamn year for everyone. We deserve to have nice things again. And Wonderful Hell is the shot in the arm we could all use right now.