IAMWARFACE – Album Review: “Year of the Dragon”

I’ve stated it before, and will say it again – British electro-rock band IAMWARFACE can do no wrong when it comes to making music. From the moment I first heard their debut single “Say My Name” in 2016 – which I likened to being hit by an atomic blast – I’ve been a huge fan. Their aggressive name is a fitting metaphor for their bombastic, groove-based sound, and in the three years since their debut, they’ve continued to deliver one incredible song after another. Three of their four singles: “Say My Name”, “Closer” and “Fear the Future” (all of which I’ve reviewed) have reached #1 on my Weekly Top 30 chart, with “Closer” finishing in the top 10 of my Top 100 Songs of 2018. Now, they’re set to finally unleash their first album Year of the Dragon, which drops September 6th. The album contains their first four singles, as well as six new tracks and four remixes.

IAMWARFACE new
Photo by Caitlin Stokes

Based in London and Brighton, England, IAMWARFACE consists of founder and frontman Matt Warneford (songwriting, vocals), Lou Matthews (guitars), Tom Howe (DJ synth), Mike Smith (bass) and Adam Stanley (drums). Influenced by some of their favorite bands and artists such as Depeche Mode, Gary Numan, Kasabian, Muse, Big Black Delta, Nero, Queens of the Stone Age, Tears For Fears, MGMT and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, IAMWARFACE creates music that’s aggressive, melodically complex and always exciting.

The opening track on Year of the DragonSay My Name” certainly embodies those qualities, with an explosive barrage of gnarly guitars, screaming synths and thunderous percussion, driven by a deep, buzzing bassline. Warneford’s fierce, mind-blowing vocals are almost frightening as he wails and shrieks the lyrics. This incredible song still gives me chills three years later!

Next up is the gloriously bombastic kiss-off song “You Don’t Love Me Anymore“, which was their second single. Once again, they live up to their name by delivering a furious onslaught of jangly guitars, heavy bass and smashing drumbeats. It’s loud, in-your-face, and melodically beautiful, and the hard-driving guitar work is fantastic. Warneford’s impassioned vocals are positively chilling as he wails “Whoa oh oh, you were right, you don’t love me anymore!” The cool video shows the band performing the song wearing fluorescent body paint.

To Die For” is one of the new tracks, and I love it! The song immediately hooks us in with an assault of crashing drumbeats and a deep, wobbly bassline, then a mesmerizing spacey synth riff kicks in, creating a mysterious soundscape for Warneford’s marvelous vocals. The music intensifies with tortured guitars and piercing synths in the chorus as he laments “Seems like I’m alive for, something I could die for.

Fear the Future” was their most recent single, released this past February, and one of their best songs. The biting lyrics speak to the banal music and entertainment, bullshit and fear-mongering being fed to the masses in a pernicious attempt to dumb-down and divide us. Musically, the song features the band’s signature aggressive instrumentation and massive, driving rhythms, making for a incredibly powerful and exhilarating song that slams us against the wall. The disturbing video brilliantly brings the dark lyrics to life.

Now we get to what I consider to be their greatest song, the monumental and gorgeous “Closer“. Wow, this song is a masterpiece! It opens with a mysterious throbbing synth chord that slowly builds into a stunning and dramatic soundscape that envelops us as Warneford laments of an obsessive and destructive relationship. The song then erupts into a maelstrom of tortured wailing synths, grimy guitars, buzz-saw bass, and explosive percussion, punctuated by almost violently crashing cymbals that emphasize the feelings of desolation expressed in the bitter lyrics. But then, Warneford fervently sings that their love affair that now lies in tatters might still be salvageable: “Feel I’m walking on shattered glass. This romance just has to end, to reset, erase, begin again. And I’ll move, move closer. Yes I’ll move closer to you.” The spooky, strangely beautiful video shows a woman in a shabby gossamer dress dancing in a filthy abandoned warehouse as Warneford sings the song.

From this point on, all the tracks are new to us, and all of them superb. The rousing “Get So High” seems to channel a bit of MGMT with its trippy and melodic synth-driven grooves and chugging riffs of gnarly guitars. “Atomic White Gold” brings a pulsating mix of chiming and reverb-drenched fuzzy guitars, swirling synths and blasting drumbeats, wrapped in a dark, captivating melody. Smith’s deep, throbbing bass is a highlight here, giving the track incredible depth. Warneford’s vocals soar as he sings “Atomic white gold. Just like the real thing.” The extended wailing guitar run in the outro is awesome, sounding like a cross between an air-raid siren and incoming bombs.

Bleed Out” starts off with heavy, distorted reverb, then a driving punk rock beat kicks in, compelling us to take to the dance floor. Matthew’s furious riffs and Stanley’s pummeling drumbeats are so fucking good! I really love songs with this kind of hard-driving beat. At the three-minute mark, the tempo slows as Howe’s throbbing industrial synths take over, giving the song a dark, intense vibe that sounds like something Depeche Mode and Nine Inch Nails could have cooked up together. The track ends with the same heavy, distorted reverb it began with.

IAMWARFACE continue delivering the goods with the hard-hitting “Red Queen“. With a nod to Queens of the Stone Age, the chugging riffs of grimy guitars and massive driving rhythms really get our blood pumping. Matthews is an amazing guitarist, and his work here is nothing short of phenomenal. Warneford laments about his low status in the eyes and heart of the woman he desires: “You are the red queen. I am the lone dog. I would do anything to win back your heart. You are something, I am nothing to you.

Trigons” is a long (7:13 minutes) mostly instrumental track that really showcases this band’s impressive musicianship. Each member is allowed to shine, as the guitars, bass, synths and percussion are distinct, yet meld together beautifully to create a mesmerizing psychedelic fantasia. Warneford’s soaring vocals are sparse, entering only in the latter part of the track, but are powerfully compelling as always.

The Paris Alexander remix of “Closer” is particularly stunning, giving a the song a different, somewhat lighter feel through a captivating dance beat and dreamy, ethereal synths. Alexander is a music producer and composer, and has collaborated with Antipole, a Norwegian post punk band I’ve previously written about on this blog.

Year of the Dragon is a phenomenal album that feels almost like a greatest hits compilation, as every single track is outstanding. I loved IAMWARFACE before, and love them even more after hearing this album. Year of the Dragon drops September 6th, but you can pre-order it here.

Track Listing:
1. SAY MY NAME
2. YOU DON’T LOVE ME ANYMORE
3. TO DIE FOR
4. FEAR THE FUTURE
5. CLOSER
6. GET SO HIGH
7. ATOMIC WHITE GOLD
8. BLEED OUT
9. RED QUEEN
10. TRIGONS
11. SAY MY NAME (PAUL PARSONS REMIX)
12. CLOSER (PARIS ALEXANDER REMIX)
13. YOU DON’T LOVE ME ANYMORE (CROSSFLOW REMIX)
14. CLOSER (CONTROL FREAK REMIX)

Catch IAMWARFACE at one of these upcoming shows:

30 August 2019 – Bournemouth, UK (with The Kut, HAWXX, Black Tree Vultures)
7 September 2019- Twickenham, UK (with How To Live, Nick Swettenham)
26 September 2019- London, UK (with The Insect, Graves)
17 November 2019 – Brighton, UK (with Legpuppy, Androids In The Mist)

Connect with IAMWARFACE:  Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music:  Spotify / Soundcloud / Apple Music
Purchase on Bandcamp / iTunes / Google Play

Top 30 Songs for July 28-August 3, 2019

 

1. I SEE YOU – MISSIO (1) 4th week at #1
2. BAD GUY – Billie Eilish (2)
3. MISSED CONNECTION – The Head and the Heart (3)
4. ALLIGATOR – Of Monsters and Men (4)
5. DOIN’ TIME – Lana Del Rey (6)
6. OLD MAN’S WAR – Roadkeeper (5)
7. ROOM TO BREATHE – Made of Eyes (8)
8. FALLING WITH STYLE – Heist At Five (10)
9. COMING UP FOR AIR – Mars Motel (11)
10. RUBBING SHOULDERS WITH THE DEVIL – Revolvers (12)
11. WHEN AM I GONNA LOSE YOU – Local Natives (13)
12. ESCAPE – Ships Have Sailed (7)
13. STRANGE KIND – Blair Dollery (15)
14. I’LL BE AROUND – Morning Fuzz (9)
15. UNDER THE COLD LIGHT OF THE MOON – Crystal Cities (16)
16. HERE WE GO – Ben Priory and Charlie Pereira (17)
17. 3 NIGHTS – Dominic Fike (18)
18. CRINGE – Matt Maeson (19)
19. HELP ME STRANGER – The Raconteurs (20)
20. GO – The Black Keys (25)
21. DARK PLACES – The Frontier (14) 21st week on chart
22. FOUR WINDS – Unquiet Nights (24)
23. RAGGED TOWN – Second Player Score (26)
24. THIS LIFE – Vampire Weekend (27)
25. BOOM – X Ambassadors (28)
26. BLOW – Ed Sheeran, Chris Stapleton & Bruno Mars (29)
27. BROTHERS – Harroland (30)
28. SOCIAL CUES – Cage the Elephant (N)
29. FEAR THE FUTURE – IAMWARFACE (21) 21st week on chart
30. STILL FEEL. – half alive (22)

Top 30 Songs for July 21-27, 2019

1. I SEE YOU – MISSIO (1)
2. BAD GUY – Billie Eilish (2)
3. MISSED CONNECTION – The Head and the Heart (3)
4. ALLIGATOR – Of Monsters and Men (5)
5. OLD MAN’S WAR – Roadkeeper (6)
6. DOIN’ TIME – Lana Del Rey (10)
7. ESCAPE – Ships Have Sailed (4)
8. ROOM TO BREATHE – Made of Eyes (9)
9. I’LL BE AROUND – Morning Fuzz (7)
10. FALLING WITH STYLE – Heist At Five (11)
11. COMING UP FOR AIR – Mars Motel (12)
12. RUBBING SHOULDERS WITH THE DEVIL – Revolvers (13)
13. WHEN AM I GONNA LOSE YOU – Local Natives (14)
14. DARK PLACES – The Frontier (8) 20th week on chart
15. STRANGE KIND – Blair Dollery (18)
16. UNDER THE COLD LIGHT OF THE MOON – Crystal Cities (19)
17. HERE WE GO – Ben Priory and Charlie Pereira (20)
18. 3 NIGHTS – Dominic Fike (22)
19. CRINGE – Matt Maeson (23)
20. HELP ME STRANGER – The Raconteurs (25)
21. FEAR THE FUTURE – IAMWARFACE (15) 20th week on chart
22. STILL FEEL. – half alive (16)
23. SAW LIGHTNING – Beck (17)
24. FOUR WINDS – Unquiet Nights (26)
25. GO – The Black Keys (28)
26. RAGGED TOWN – Second Player Score (30)
27. THIS LIFE – Vampire Weekend (N)
28. BOOM – X Ambassadors (N)
29. BLOW – Ed Sheeran, Chris Stapleton & Bruno Mars (N)
30. BROTHERS – Harroland (N)

Top 30 Songs for July 14-20, 2019

1. I SEE YOU – MISSIO (1)
2. BAD GUY – Billie Eilish (3)
3. MISSED CONNECTION – The Head and the Heart (4)
4. ESCAPE – Ships Have Sailed (2)
5. ALLIGATOR – Of Monsters and Men (6)
6. OLD MAN’S WAR – Roadkeeper (8)
7. I’LL BE AROUND – Morning Fuzz (9)
8. DARK PLACES – The Frontier (5)
9. ROOM TO BREATHE – Made of Eyes (12)
10. DOIN’ TIME – Lana Del Rey (18)
11. FALLING WITH STYLE – Heist At Five (13)
12. COMING UP FOR AIR – Mars Motel (14)
13. RUBBING SHOULDERS WITH THE DEVIL – Revolvers (16)
14. WHEN AM I GONNA LOSE YOU – Local Natives (20)
15. FEAR THE FUTURE – IAMWARFACE (7)
16. STILL FEEL. – half alive (10)
17. SAW LIGHTNING – Beck (11)
18. STRANGE KIND – Blair Dollery (19)
19. UNDER THE COLD LIGHT OF THE MOON – Crystal Cities (22)
20. HERE WE GO – Ben Priory and Charlie Pereira (23)
21. BELOVED – Mumford & Sons (15)
22. 3 NIGHTS – Dominic Fike (28)
23. CRINGE – Matt Maeson (27)
24. HELP ME STRANGER – The Raconteurs (29)
25. HURT – Oliver Tree (17)
26. FOUR WINDS – Unquiet Nights (30)
27. PATIENCE – Tame Impala (24)
28. GO – The Black Keys (N)
29. ECHOES – Ignite the Fire (25)
30. RAGGED TOWN – Second Player Score (N)

Top 30 Songs for July 7-13, 2019

1. I SEE YOU – MISSIO (3)
2. ESCAPE – Ships Have Sailed (1)
3. BAD GUY – Billie Eilish (4)
4. MISSED CONNECTION – The Head and the Heart (5)
5. DARK PLACES – The Frontier (2)
6. ALLIGATOR – Of Monsters and Men (8)
7. FEAR THE FUTURE – IAMWARFACE (6)
8. OLD MAN’S WAR – Roadkeeper (11)
9. I’LL BE AROUND – Morning Fuzz (10)
10. STILL FEEL. – half alive (9)
11. SAW LIGHTNING – Beck (12)
12. ROOM TO BREATHE – Made of Eyes (16)
13. FALLING WITH STYLE – Heist At Five (18)
14. COMING UP FOR AIR – Mars Motel (19)
15. BELOVED – Mumford and Sons (14)
16. RUBBING SHOULDERS WITH THE DEVIL – Revolvers (21)
17. HURT – Oliver Tree (7)
18. DOIN’ TIME – Lana Del Rey (30)
19. STRANGE KIND – Blair Dollery (25)
20. WHEN AM I GONNA LOSE YOU – Local Natives (28)
21. BURY A FRIEND – Billie Eilish (13)
22. UNDER THE COLD LIGHT OF THE MOON – Crystal Cities (26)
23. HERE WE GO – Ben Priory and Charlie Pereira (27)
24. PATIENCE – Tame Impala (15)
25. ECHOES – Ignite the Fire (20)
26. MAYBE, I’M AFRAID – Lovelytheband (17)
27. CRINGE – Matt Maeson (N)
28. 3 NIGHTS – Dominic Fike (N)
29. HELP ME STRANGER – The Raconteurs (N)
30. FOUR WINDS – Unquiet Nights (N)

Top 30 Songs for June 30-July 6, 2019

1. ESCAPE – Ships Have Sailed (3)
2. DARK PLACES – The Frontier (1)
3. I SEE YOU – MISSIO (7)
4. BAD GUY – Billie Eilish (5)
5. MISSED CONNECTION – The Head and the Heart (6)
6. FEAR THE FUTURE – IAMWARFACE (2)
7. HURT – Oliver Tree (4)
8. ALLIGATOR – Of Monsters and Men (12)
9. STILL FEEL. – half alive (8)
10. I’LL BE AROUND – Morning Fuzz (13)
11. OLD MAN’S WAR – Roadkeeper (14)
12. SAW LIGHTNING – Beck (15)
13. BURY A FRIEND – Billie Eilish (9)
14. BELOVED – Mumford & Sons (10)
15. PATIENCE – Tame Impala (11)
16. ROOM TO BREATHE – Made of Eyes (20)
17. MAYBE, I’M AFRAID – lovelytheband (19)
18. FALLING WITH STYLE – Heist at Five (23)
19. COMING UP FOR AIR – Mars Motel (24)
20. ECHOES – Ignite the Fire (25)
21. RUBBING SHOULDERS WITH THE DEVIL – Revolvers (26)
22. DISAPPEAR – Western Jaguar (16) 22nd week on chart
23. CHLORINE – twenty one pilots (17)
24. LONGSHOT – Catfish and the Bottlemen (18) 22nd week on chart
25. STRANGE KIND – Blair Dollery (28)
26. UNDER THE COLD LIGHT OF THE MOON – Crystal Cities (29)
27. HERE WE GO – Ben Priory and Charlie Pereira (30)
28. WHEN AM I GONNA LOSE YOU – Local Natives (N)
29. LOVE CRAZY – Karolina Rose (21)
30. DOIN’ TIME – Lana Del Rey (N)

Top 30 Songs for June 23-29, 2019

1. DARK PLACES – The Frontier (2)
2. FEAR THE FUTURE – IAMWARFACE (1)
3. ESCAPE – Ships Have Sailed (3)
4. HURT – Oliver Tree (5)
5. BAD GUY – Billie Eilish (6)
6. MISSED CONNECTION – The Head and the Heart (7)
7. I SEE YOU – MISSIO (14)
8. STILL FEEL. – half alive (8)
9. BURY A FRIEND – Billie Eilish (4)
10. BELOVED – Mumford & Sons (11)
11. PATIENCE – Tame Impala (12)
12. ALLIGATOR – Of Monsters and Men (20)
13. I’LL BE AROUND – Morning Fuzz (15)
14. OLD MAN’S WAR – Roadkeeper (16)
15. SAW LIGHTNING – Beck (19)
16. DISAPPEAR – Western Jaguar (9) 21st week on chart
17. CHLORINE – twenty one pilots (10)
18. LONGSHOT – Catfish and the Bottlemen (13) 21st week on chart
19. MAYBE, I’M AFRAID – lovelytheband (22)
20. ROOM TO BREATHE – Made of Eyes (23)
21. LOVE CRAZY – Karolina Rose (17)
22. TIME – Morosity (18)
23. FALLING WITH STYLE – Heist At Five (27)
24. COMING UP FOR AIR – Mars Motel (28)
25. ECHOES – Ignite the Fire (29)
26. RUBBING SHOULDERS WITH THE DEVIL – Revolvers (30)
27. NOT WORTH IT – The Only Route (21)
28. STRANGE KIND – Blair Dollery (N)
29. UNDER THE COLD LIGHT OF THE MOON – Crystal Cities (N)
30. HERE WE GO – Ben Priory & Charlie Pereira (N)

Top 30 Songs for June 16-22, 2019

1. FEAR THE FUTURE – IAMWARFACE (1)
2. DARK PLACES – The Frontier (3)
3. ESCAPE – Ships Have Sailed (4)
4. BURY A FRIEND – Billie Eilish (2)
5. HURT – Oliver Tree (7)
6. BAD GUY – Billie Eilish (11)
7. MISSED CONNECTION – The Head and the Heart (9)
8. STILL FEEL. – half alive (10)
9. DISAPPEAR – Western Jaguar (5) 20th week on chart
10. CHLORINE – twenty one pilots (6)
11. BELOVED – Mumford & Sons (13)
12. PATIENCE – Tame Impala (15)
13. LONGSHOT – Catfish and the Bottlemen (8) 20th week on chart
14. I SEE YOU – MISSIO (24)
15. I’LL BE AROUND – Morning Fuzz (17)
16. OLD MAN’S WAR – Roadkeeper (19)
17. LOVE CRAZY – Karolina Rose (12)
18. TIME – Morosity (14)
19. SAW LIGHTNING – Beck (21)
20. ALLIGATOR – Of Monsters and Men (22)
21. NOT WORTH IT – The Only Route (18)
22. MAYBE, I’M AFRAID – lovelytheband (23)
23. ROOM TO BREATHE – Made of Eyes (25)
24. CHOKE – I Don’t Know How But They Found Me (20)
25. TRAMPOLINE – SHAED (16) 19th week on chart
26. I GET NO JOY – Jade Bird (27)
27. FALLING WITH STYLE – Heist at Five (28)
28. COMING UP FOR AIR – Mars Motel (29)
29. ECHOES – Ignite the Fire (30)
30. RUBBING SHOULDERS WITH THE DEVIL – Revolvers (N)

Top 30 Songs for June 9-15, 2019

1. FEAR THE FUTURE – IAMWARFACE (4)
2. BURY A FRIEND – Billie Eilish (1)
3. DARK PLACES – The Frontier (5)
4. ESCAPE – Ships Have Sailed (7)
5. DISAPPEAR – Western Jaguar (2)
6. CHLORINE – twenty one pilots (3)
7. HURT – Oliver Tree (8)
8. LONGSHOT – Catfish and the Bottlemen (6)
9. MISSED CONNECTION – The Head and the Heart (12)
10. STILL FEEL. – half alive (11)
11. BAD GUY – Billie Eilish (16)
12. LOVE CRAZY – Karolina Rose (10)
13. BELOVED – Mumford & Sons (13)
14. TIME – Morosity (9)
15. PATIENCE – Tame Impala (15)
16. TRAMPOLINE – SHAED (14)
17. I’LL BE AROUND – Morning Fuzz (17)
18. NOT WORTH IT – The Only Route (18)
19. OLD MAN’S WAR – Roadkeeper (19)
20. CHOKE – I Don’t Know How But They Found Me (20)
21. SAW LIGHTNING – Beck (23)
22. ALLIGATOR – Of Monsters and Men (25)
23. MAYBE, I’M AFRAID – lovelytheband (24)
24. I SEE YOU – MISSIO (29)
25. ROOM TO BREATHE – Made of Eyes (30)
26. READY TO LET GO – Cage the Elephant (22)
27. I GET NO JOY – Jade Bird (N)
28. FALLING WITH STYLE – Heist at Five (N)
29. COMING UP FOR AIR – Mars Motel (N)
30. ECHOES – Ignite the Fire (N)

Top 30 Songs for June 2-8, 2019

1. BURY A FRIEND – Billie Eilish (3)
2. DISAPPEAR – Western Jaguar (1)
3. CHLORINE – twenty one pilots (2)
4. FEAR THE FUTURE – IAMWARFACE (5)
5. DARK PLACES – The Frontier (6)
6. LONGSHOT – Catfish and the Bottlemen (4)
7. ESCAPE – Ships Have Sailed (8)
8. HURT – Oliver Tree (9)
9. TIME – Morosity (7)
10. LOVE CRAZY – Karolina Rose (10)
11. STILL FEEL. – half alive (12)
12. MISSED CONNECTION – The Head and the Heart (13)
13. BELOVED – Mumford & Sons (15)
14. TRAMPOLINE – SHAED (14)
15. PATIENCE – Tame Impala (18)
16. BAD GUY – Billie Eilish (29)
17. I’LL BE AROUND – Morning Fuzz (20)
18. NOT WORTH IT – The Only Route (21)
19. OLD MAN’S WAR – Roadkeeper (22)
20. CHOKE – I Don’t Know How But They Found Me (23)
21. SIGUE CON EL AMOR – John Defeo (11) 21st week on chart
22. READY TO LET GO – Cage the Elephant (16)
23. SAW LIGHTNING – Beck (27)
24. MAYBE, I’M AFRAID – lovelytheband (28)
25. ALLIGATOR – Of Monsters and Men (30)
26. APOLOGIZE – grandson (26)
27. SEVENTEEN – Sharon Van Etten (17)
28. LO/HI – The Black Keys (19)
29. I SEE YOU – MISSIO (N)
30. ROOM TO BREATHE – Made of Eyes (N)