Летние войны – Сажа (Soot)
Moscow's self-described “progressive emo” band Летние войны (Summer Wars) return with technical post-hardcore par excellence.
After some significant line-up changes and a two year creative period (2018-2020), Moscow’s Летние войны (Summer Wars) return with their latest full-length Сажа (Soot), streamed on their Bandcamp page on March 19th 2021.
Opening track “Ковенант” (Covenant) begins with the kind of soaring spacy guitar leads reminiscent of bands like Circa Survive and when the track kicks in proper, their layered and driving post hardcore reminds me of bands like Pianos Become the Teeth or The Tidal Sleep. Following “Отдел тайн” (Department of Mysteries) sees a further foray into expansive guitar motifs, sounding almost like the complex melodies contrast with each other to the point where they could be from different songs, yet they still complement each other. They manage to almost disorientate and overwhelm while at the same time bathe you in their encompassing beauty.
It’s not just an exercise in guitar duels though, the vocals range from impassioned screams, dulcet singing and some spoken sections and the drumming is perfectly measured to carry the tunes, whether frenzied or subtle. What’s impressive above all is the fact that with so much going on in terms of instrumentation is that the songs really work. ‘Riff salad’ is a term bandied around a lot these days—the idea of accomplished musicians just gluing a load of fancy show-off riffs together and calling it a song, at the expense of any kind of theme or structure to a piece. Летние войны do not have this problem. At the heart of what makes this record work so well is great songwriting—they undoubtedly have the chops to make elaborate and intricate music, and, to be fair, it is their strongest attribute—it is what ultimately makes them so good—but it’s clear that they put the song first and never really stray into self-indulgence.
The penultimate and instrumental track “Вместо” (The Instead), guides the listener to a warm and drawn out ethereal note preparing us for the final song “Мы договорились” (We Came to Terms), which starts with the kind of driving hardcore of Touché Amoré, before settling into a kind of angsty alternative rock sound, punctuated with tortured vocals and their signature guitar noodling.
Сажа is a record that could and should win a lot of people over, it’s melodic and accessible but it still gets aggressive when it wants to and it sounds to me like two years well spent crafting an outstanding melodic hardcore masterclass.