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Dub War: thwarted by the arrival of Britpop, their hour may have finally come

Westgate Under Fire is reggae-metal firebrands Deb War's second chance to shine brightly

Westgate Under Fire cover art
(Image: © Earache)

It’s difficult to shake off the feeling that if Dub War had been American they would have been huge, and seen as peers of Rage Against The Machine. Unfortunately, being Welsh and arriving in the mid-90s, just as the UK developed an obsession with Britpop, the band’s thrilling, fiery mix of metal, punk and ragga didn’t fit in with the significantly less progressive narrative of the era. 

Frontman Benji Webbe went on to greater success with Skindred, but now he and his old compadres are back with their first album of new material since 1996’s Wrong Side Of Beautiful

And what a comeback it is, at once righteously furious (particularly on opener Blackkk Man, inspired by the murder of George Floyd) and deeply, magnificently groovy. 

From the straight-ahead banger Vibes In The Place, destined to rip the roof off any venue, to the grungy Coffin Lid, to an adrenalin-fuelled cover of Max Romeo And The Upsetters’ War Ina Babylon (featuring The Beat’s Ranking Roger in his final ever recording), to a suitably romantic version of Marvin Gaye’s Stay Together, Westgate Under Fire is a start-to-finish thrill that suggests Dub War’s time might finally have arrived.

Emma has been writing about music for 25 years, and is a regular contributor to Classic Rock, Metal Hammer, Prog and Louder. During that time her words have also appeared in publications including Kerrang!, Melody Maker, Select, The Blues Magazine and many more. She is also a professional pedant and grammar nerd and has worked as a copy editor on everything from film titles through to high-end property magazines. In her spare time, when not at gigs, you’ll find her at her local stables hanging out with a bunch of extremely characterful horses.