It’s no secret that bands rarely enjoy being tagged with a label, with one or two vague words often unfairly pigeonholing them or limiting their art, preferring instead to insist that their music is beyond subgenres or categorisation. Chicago quartet Without Waves certainly fall into the latter camp, largely because their fiendishly inventive metallic smorgasbord is so incredibly difficult to pin down.
Having played together since they were in school 15 years ago, the band have spent time evolving their sound and taking their cues from all manner of metallic branches as well as jazz, r’n’bs and everything in between. One listen to their third album, Luna, their first for Prosthetic, will leave you understanding why it’s so tricky to find similarities, even with other likeminded contemporaries.
“We like that the music’s difficult to classify, but also we think there’s something for everyone. We’re definitely a metal band, that’s the core of what we do, but it’s certainly evolved in a lot of different directions,” says vocalist and guitarist Anthony Cwan when trying to pin down the wide variety of sounds and moods that cut through the band’s music. “It’s all about remaining unafraid and allowing yourself to be a bit more vulnerable, which lends itself to the more melody-driven parts of the album. What we like is to get into a room and jam things out, with a focus on melody and hooks. It’s a nice combination of some of the technical elements but also being able to incorporate vocal and guitar melodies. It feels natural.”
Though from a distance Luna may be off-putting for anyone with a less- than-vigilant attention span, the album’s long, organic gestation period has helped create a cohesive thread tying together the dazzling rhythmic complexities of Sewing Together The Limbs and nightmarish frenzy of Victorian Punishment with the expertly executed melodies and hooks of Us Against and dulcet flow of Never Know Quite Why.
But writing such convoluted music is never the intention of a band who grew up covering the likes of Pantera and Slayer and simply have an ear for a good tune. “A definite goal is to keep the album cohesive through all the changes and styles that are represented,” adds drummer Garry Naples. “We don’t think too much when we write. We just want to write music that’s interesting to us and that challenges us. The intention is never to make anything too complicated.”
It’s refreshing to hear a band of lifelong friends, who have played together for half their lives, talking so enthusiastically about the opportunity to simply create music and play a smattering of shows to a handful of people together. Now with major backing and a vibrant, challenging album, it’s a wish that at the very least should be fulfilled.
Lunar is out on March 17 via Prosthetic