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Salad Days Magazine | April 18, 2024

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Salad Days

Listen to the album’s essential title track now. // Look for the album out digitally on 10/30/20 (physically on 11/13/20) from Bridge Nine.

A lot has happened since War On Women burst out of Baltimore’s activist community in 2010 as an unapologetically intersectional feminist hardcore punk band. In their early days, some found their politics “extreme” but in the years since, feminism has undeniably gone mainstream. There’s also been backlash, from the growth of the alt-right out of misogynist message boards, to an actual rapist landing in the White House where he’s spent the past four years pouring gasoline on the flames of hatred and division, rather than striving toward unity. That’s all to say, that in the midst of this tumultuous period of American history, and especially with the crucial 2020 election looming on the horizon, War On Women’s unrelenting vision and ferociously vital messages are more necessary than ever before.

Their new album ‘Wonderful Hell’ is a call to action, even when every step forward feels like it’s met with a landslide back. The title track, which unintentionally echoes John Lewis’ notion of “good trouble” as a catalyst for change, emerged during a period when vocalist/lyricist Shawna Potter was feeling exhausted and overwhelmed by life in the Trump era. “I think it expresses something that a lot of people are feeling. Like, ‘Okay, we had our moment. Now it’s time to get back to work. We can’t let this happen again. We can’t endure another four years of this,’” she comments.

Recorded with the band’s guitarist and co-founder Brooks Harlan alongside J. Robbins at his Magpie Cage Studios in February 2020 and completed in April (when in a COVID-19-free timeline the band would have been on tour with Bad Religion), ‘Wonderful Hell’ is the first War On Women album to feature the band’s current lineup of Potter, Harlan, bassist/vocalist Sue Werner, guitarist/vocalist Jennifer “Jenarchy” Vito, and drummer Dave Cavalier. Like War On Women’s previous albums, ‘Wonderful Hell’ includes anthemic songs that tackle systemic racism, acknowledge the natural feelings of wanting to give up or self-destruct in the face of insurmountable adversity, and some that aim straight at the jugular of gender disparity.

And while War On Women offers listeners space to vent their anxieties and frustrations, they ultimately challenge them to find their inner strength and build the world they want to live in rather than burn down what’s left of this one. “The thing is, we don’t have a do over,” Potter says. “We don’t have a time machine. We can’t snap our fingers and start from some other place. All we have is right here, right now. So what can you do right here, right now, to help?” So take a breath, recharge, and then join War On Women — because it’s time to raise some Wonderful Hell.

‘Wonderful Hell’ TrackListing:
1. Aqua Tofana
2. Milk And Blood
3. Wonderful Hell
4. This Stolen Land
5. White Lies
6. Big Words
7. Seeds
8. Her?
9. In Your Path
10. The Ash Is Not The End
11. Demon

Artist photo by: Julia Schwendner

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