Love Letter – War From A Harlots Mouth’s MMX

The Love Letter format has traditionally allowed us to gush vocally all over the music closest to our pumpers, freeing up all kinds of lavish language. This pleases me. While I was familiar with War From A Harlots Mouth before the release of today’s target of admiration and questionable comparisons, it wasn’t until MMX that the band really gripped my attention long enough to necessitate the gushing. There are maybe four or five albums that will always be the first uploaded to a new phone. Go to’s that I know can get me through any situation thrown my way; MMX is one of them, funnily enough.

Initially, I wasn’t sold. For the fuck of me I can’t remember which track was released initially but I thought they were jumping on the drop tune, djank sound. Instant turn off. 2010 me was just that superficial. I’d been listening to Danza III obsessively to the point of sickness by the time MMX entered my life. I fell asleep listening to it through for the first time and it just kept looping. The piss-drunk fever dreams that night were plagued by dissonant screeches and trainwreck rhythms and I’m sure I dipped in and out of consciousness with the same half hour of hostile, precision slicing German metalcore. The next few weeks of my terribly dressed life were scored almost exclusively by War From A Harlots Mouth and their unsettling amalgamation of Meshuggah, Gorguts and David Lynch.

I would need a series of Love Letters to go into everything that makes MMX such a hallmark record for me, and that’s too much of my shit for anyone. “Insomnia” is my favourite opening track of all time, without even being my standout track on the record. The opener rushes straight into life, screeching from corner to corner and framing Nico Weber’s uniquely raspy voice perfectly. His juiced up hardcore bellowing is the frame for the clusterfuck of beatdowns and booming, snappy grooves. Through dark, stark and murky short stories and nihilist friendly declarations, Weber necessitates the nightmarish music the rest of the band built around him. Every stabbing, throat shredding line is from a man with his heart on his sleeve and venom spitting from his tongue. “C.G.B Spender” – prefaced by the single best single riff song of all time and yet another part of the WFAHMX-Files – is a wonderfully written account from The Cigarette Smoking Man’s point of view, making sense within the context of MMX.

The tones and sounds put to tape in the MMX sessions still surprise me today. Even after who knows how many hours of my life, I still find myself catching new drum hits and guitar bits. The execution of the panning guitars, even with so much low end attack, is so pristine. Every panic chord and heavily attacked open string punches home the mission statement of War From A Harlots Mouth, punches it right into my face and I love it. Alongside Danza and Ion Dissonance, the Germans were the first bands to make metal that exists in a world somewhere between ours and a bleak, Black Mirror future with literal office drones, etc. The dissonance and attention deficit destruction of extended range instruments aside, the ability for bands like these to paint pictures with tonally challenging music is exceptional. MMX runs like a movie in my head every time I hear it. Weber even frames this point quite readily for me in “Recluse MMX”:

“This is not science fiction anymore
but we’re still on the same journey”

It’s not to be left unsaid that Paule Seidel and his octopus assault on the drum kit is a major component in what drives each of the tracks; I remember where certain kick patterns and fills are on MMX better than I remember most of my adult birthdays. The “canned” approach to the final drum sound probably shouldn’t work but does, I can’t think of any other record with such peculiar percussive tones. Maybe it’s all in Seidel’s chops. It’s standout work, regardless. I love hearing the rhythm section working in complete synchronisation, even when syncopating, playing between each other or simply beating a groove into submission. You have to go into the bonus tracks for my next gushing statement though.

“Hexagram” is at best, a fun Deftones track. There’s basically two riffs and one of them is vicious as hell. War From A Harlots Mouth ease through the cover without breaking a sweat compared to the gear chewing chaos on “The Polyglutamine Pact”, yet it still feels like a genuine tribute. The bile is just as bitter when Weber spits out Moreno’s words, losing none of the fervor in translation. Second only to Hivesmasher‘s version of “Everlong” in the all time best covers markings. According to me.

The Deftones and Will Haven covers (“Dolph Lundgren” on 2012’s Voyeur) pay tribute to bands who shaped the sound of War From A Harlots Mouth. Now, I hear someone like Mouthbreather or Minors doing their own brand of something and I hear WFAHM cut through for a second. Then I’m instantly reminded about MMX and that makes me happy because I know I can throw it on for the nth time and enjoy every plate-shifting riff one more time. Considering how little I remember of 2010 it’s surprising anything from the year has stayed with me so prominently. Drunk, sober or asleep, I’ll always have a 32 minute long hole in my heart that this record can fix. RIP WFAHM.

 

 

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