UNKLE

War Stories

  • AllMusic Rating
    6
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

James Lavelle's UNKLE project has offered virtually everything to its fans and the listening public -- virtually everything, except for great music. UNKLE full-lengths seem primed to make a major impact on music and culture. They're packed with high concept, dense with thematic elements ripped from the headlines (especially the war in Iraq), and this time out, include an artwork-packed booklet (featuring Massive Attack's Robert del Naja, Ben Drury, and Will Bankhead). The fact that the music has never fulfilled its expectations, despite the undeniable talents of everyone involved, points to a too-many-cooks problem. War Stories finds the group, a core duo of Lavelle and Richard File, enlisting major production help from Chris Goss. Goss' work with Masters of Reality and Kyuss made the California/Arizona desert a haven for progressive metal, and its influence is all over this record. Fellow desert rat Josh Homme reprises his role from the last UNKLE full length, along with del Naja (as 3D), indie rockers Autolux, English neo-garage band the Duke Spirit, and finally, Ian Astbury (like Lavelle, another Englishman apparently fascinated with the American Southwest). Astbury's vocals on "Burn My Shadow" and "When Things Explode" make for a pair of highlights; they're one of the few points on War Stories when a hint of personality threatens to overwhelm the many tenebrous guitars and gloomy, plaintive vocals. Newcomer Gavin Clark also shines as a stand-in for Jeff Buckley, but amid the many features and incredible dynamism that mark every UNKLE full-length, there are no songs to grab onto and little of real essence. [Some editions also included a bonus disc with instrumentals.]

blue highlight denotes track pick