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4.6 out of 5 stars39
4.6 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 7 August 2007
One word: WOW. Dance-rock duo James Lavelle and Richard File have excelled themselves on this, UNKLE's latest opus. Dirty great guitar riffs... top-notch guest spots... even the odd dance-floor filler... you really couldn't ask for much more. Enlisting the likes of Masters of Reality man/stoner-rock uber-producer Chris Goss and recording tracks at the Rancho de la Luna studio in the Californian desert has clearly played a major part in the way this album sounds, giving it an ethereal quality without forsaking the trademark dark, hypnotic vibe. The vocal lines provided by the likes of Josh Homme (QOTSA), Ian Astbury (The Cult) and Liela Moss (The Duke Spirit) are strong and memorable in their own right, while Gavin Clark's inclusion on penultimate track, 'Broken' is simply inspired. Somewhat less spectacular are the contributions from Massive Attack's 3D and Autolux but thankfully, they don't detract from the overall enjoyment of the album.

A tad over-long at 14 tracks (including the 14 minute finale, 'When Things Explode') War Stories is nevertheless like good quality dark chocolate: rich and flavoursome, with a distinct and pleasingly bitter edge.

Matt Pucci
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on 7 July 2007
an utterly compelling lp - deep and dark and aggressive and demanding...the closest comparisons i can think of would be Massive Attack's Mezzanine lp and Spirit of Eden by Talk Talk

an inspired choice of guest vocalists (the Gavin Clark of Clayhill & Ian Astbury tracks are fabulous) just show how on top of his game Lavelle is.

sometimes an lp grabs me so much intitally that after a week or so, i'm almost bored of it, but trust me, there's no way you could be bored by this...it's got the lot.

without a doubt, one of the top three lps of the year.
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on 20 May 2008
I don't usually feel the need to write reviews, I'm no muso but this album has blown me away. It was waiting for me at 6.30 this evening when i got in and the fact I'm writing this at 7.30 is an indication of just how brilliant this album is. No duff tracks at all I swear. It's dirty, sleazy, awe inspiring and a joy to listen to. Without sounding too gushy I've been texting mates like crazy urging them to buy this album.
I was hooked on the first track and it grows from there. It's hard to do justice by comparisons but as a guide take the best QOTSA, Stone Roses, Pink Floyd, a funked up Radiohead, Moby etc etc and it still doesn't come close to describing how good this is. It's a cliche but if you buy nothing else this year do yourself a favour and buy this - it is a seriously, seriously great album. The only problem now is finding something else as good......
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on 9 September 2007
Unlike Never Never Land this album took me a couple of listens to fully appreciate. This, however, turns out to be a good thing, a very good thing indeed. Not as commercially accessible as its predecessor, War Stories offers a lot more in return when played many countless times thereafter. Stand out tracks are Hold My Hand (with James Lavelle on lead vocal duties), Restless, Keys To The Kingdom, Burn My Shadow and the glam/grunge rock of Mayday. It's a shame that the sublime When Things Explode featuring Ian Astbury is ruined by the pointless 3 minute silent interlude at the end of the track before we get to hear a tagged on instrumental piece. It not only serves to give the impression that the track is longer than it actually is, it's also pretty frustrating having to fast forward to the next and final segment.

Also, whoever designed the packaging for the 2 disc edition should be shot!! It took me 10 minutes to get into, and I had to rip part of the casing in order to achieve it. God knows what state a "used" CD will look like if you happen to order one from Amazon.

However, none of these negative points distract from how good the music is on this album. Well done, Lavelle and co.
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on 2 September 2007
(By the way, in case you want to know whether this review is relevant to you, my favourite artists include The Chemical Brothers, Radiohead, Bonobo, REM, Queens of the Stone Age, Gorillaz etc...)

I picked up on UNKLE after hearing their remix of QOTSA's No-one Knows on the soundtrack for SSX3 (and anyone that's played the game could tell you it's nigh-on impossible to listen to music in it!). UNKLE are definitely one of the best band of their genre - which is pretty much every genre you could think of. This is electronica (persons and machinery), punk (restless), rock (burn my shadow), dance (chemistry), ambient (twilight), pop (mayday), orchestral (when things explode)...

Basically, if you like music, you will LOVE this.

The only possible duds are Hold My Hand, Lawless and Morning Rage, but that's merely in contrast with the rest of the album - They're still good songs.

If you're not sure whether to purchase or not, try to listen to Keys To The Kingdom, Price You Pay, Burn My Shadow and Mayday and you WILL want this.

Thanks for reading!
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UNKLE have found a little niche for themselves as the 'real'-sounding band that dance music fans like myself can like. Partly that's due to the epic production values, partly that's due to UNKLE's ongoing fantastic selection of remixers and remixes to support their releases- their previous album "Never Never Land" spawned so many re-versions that they ended up getting released as a 4CD set in their own right.

With this album though they may have taken a step too far in the Radiohead direction that beats & breaks fans won't appreciate so much. The UNKLE sound is still there- rich orchestration, complex drums, melancholic melodies- but what one of the other reviewers has called "mature" I'd call "passionless". The whole thing just has a slight hint of resignedness that makes it, for me, not as good as "Never Never Land" was.

As I was particularly disappointed with the vocal guest appearances, then I was happy to get the limited edition 2CD version which includes a second disc containing all the instrumental versions of the songs on the first disc, in the same order. I have a feeling that disc two is the one I'll be going back to repeatedly.

I'm also looking forward to hearing some of these tracks being remixed.

However on the limited edition 2CD version, the packaging is TERRIBLE. Really, really poor. It is a chunky "what shelf will that go on?" box that is badly designed so that the inner part wedges awkwardly. The CDs don't sit properly in their 'slots'. The tracklist is printed onto the outer vacuum-plastic that you have to destroy in order to open it- why?! Music aside, UNKLE albums have had some awful packaging.

If you like this album, try also Rob Dougan's "Furious Angels" album.
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on 20 September 2007
Following the departure of founder member DJ Shadow, Unkle moved into different circles on the second release, Never Never Land. War Stories continues in a similar fashion with this album and sees James Lavelle and Richard File enlist Chris Goss, Queens of the Stone Age producer, to help direct the sound of this latest project. In short the outcome is close to perfection. A veritable wall-of-sound is apparent on almost every track, the production displays Lavelle's skills for picking the right vocalist or contributor to produce track-after-track of brilliance. From a personal standpoint I've enjoyed all three releases but this latest collection truly displays how honed the Unkle sound has become. This album will be enjoyed for years to come and deserves recognition beyond the limited exposure it has had so far.
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on 7 September 2007
great album as you would expect, however the packaging is a nightmare, i had to use a dinner knife to open the package, cds don,t stay in the holders either, if you are a bit of anorak like myself then you will want the 2 cd with booklet, but if not just save yourselves the package nightmare and get the normal cd album version
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on 20 April 2010
This album is amazing. Buy it.
I thought I wa sbeing retarded when people said they couldnt get the packing open. It's taken me 30 mins and Ive only managed to lever it out by 3mm.

Its a hardback book in a tight cardboard case. There are no cut-outs of the sleeve so you cannot grip the book to remove it. So far I have wedged four knives in to try and give me enough space to get my fingers in. Im annoyed as I thought i'd treat myself to the special edition packaging, and yet I am STILL only able to listen to the album on Spotify. I cant even get to my physical CDs. Will have to wait until someone else gets home so we can double up on this demon.

I'm all for packaging being an experience, but this makes me want to destroy something dear to me.
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on 6 September 2008
I am a fan of Psyence Fiction and Never Never Land, not least because of their blend of hip hop, breakbeat and rock. War Stories is more of a straightforward guitar rock-based album vaguely reminiscent of Primal Scream, but it contains several memorable tracks so, whilst I don't rate this as highly as their previous work (because of the abandonment of beats and breaks), I like it all the same. Stand out tracks are "Chemistry" and "Burn My Shadow". Talking of which, please bring back DJ Shadow for the next effort!
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