Despite my initial hesitance, &TEAM’s Firework perfected the synth-inflected side of HYBE’s oeuvre. Somehow, that song leveraged the agency’s faceless vocal processing as an asset, tying it to strong hooks and a compelling atmosphere. This success raised the stakes for &TEAM’s first full album, but new single War Cry takes a different approach.
Unlike with Firework, I’m not predisposed to love War Cry‘s sound. Its rock influences are suitably dramatic, but the halting tempo gives me pause. The members belt out the melodies, echoing the cathartic appeal of a “war cry,” and the track gathers steam as it rolls toward its conclusion. But rather than feel like a steadily growing beast, War Cry lurches here and there. Its verses are filled with dramatic exclamations but not enough rhythm for my taste. And, none of the melodies are all that appealing.
However, War Cry‘s gritty atmosphere crafts a grungy, anthemic tone that works well for the group. As a performance piece, there’s plenty to like here. It feels like a climactic moment in an action movie — a pre-battle scene stuffed with the toil of exertion and driven by an emotional rawness that feels authentic in the moment but less impactful once the dust has settled.