You're unlikely to hear a more hyped up debut album this year. Enter Shikari have worked very hard these past few years building up a loyal fanbase thanks to constant touring. They have earned themselves a reputation as a very exciting live band with tonnes of passion and energy. ES have now released an album consisting mainly of the songs that they have been playing on the road for years with the welcome addition of some brand new songs as well. So there is one important question that Take To The Skies
will answer: Can Enter Shikari live up to the hype that they have built for themselves?
Stand You Ground; This Is Ancient Land
starts off the album just as it would any Shikari show, with it's atmospheric synths creating a feeling that with a little imagination could convince you that an alien spacecraft is landing. Many of us have clapped our hands; danced to it; sung along with it; and in some cases came in anticipation of what's to come. Okay, that last one was an exaggeration but it definitely creates anticpation along with a great atmosphere. "***!".Just like that, the atmosphere created by the previous track is smashed. In it's place Enter Shikari
provides the first scream/sing/chant-a-long of the album with it's fist pumping brilliance. The change from the original isn't all that noticeable but for the added vocals and slightly enhanced synth.
Since a lot of the tracks here have been released in some shape or form, it would hardly be worth releasing an album full of unoriginal material; this is why the band have enhanced most tracks by adding new vocal parts, synth parts or just enhancing instruments. This is most apparent on Johnny Sniper
which has been transformed into one of, if not the best track on the album with it's improved synth parts, completely new vocal parts along with what sounds like military commands in the background. These background 'skits' and new lyrics build up the character to be a war hero. This is backed up by Interlude 4
which precedes the track asking us to "Show some appreciation for Johnny Sniper!" and then uses militaristic drum rolls and other instrumentation. This is all completely unnecessary, as are most of the interludes on the album as they are all either remixes of the self-titled track or preludes to songs. Unnecessary as they are, they add a nice effect as their inclusion means that there is precious little silence on the album. OK, Time For Plan B
also improves loads from better production with new vocals that fill up space, giving the song a thicker texture even if they are at times unfortunately random: "We'll fight like sharks; We'll fight like dogs!" Hmmmm... ?No, me neither. Such inadequacies are more than made up for with the fact that it was a great song in the first place and that it now has less generic instrumentation with various (technical term here) spazz-outs at the end.
While twiddling the knobs on some tracks has greatly improved them, some have suffered. Recent single Anything Can Happen In The Next Half Hour
has had it's vocals comletely ruined. The backing vocals are now a horrible mess and now sound like a dying animal. Now whether you like vocals that sound like something Peta would consider a war crime is a matter of opinion; but in a track that has been mixed so much that it is nearly a pop song, vocals like this sound completely out of place. New song Adieu
, like the aforementioned vocals is also out of place. It is essentially a six-minute acoustic song, but with no definite chorus it sounds boring and drags on for way too long. Even the last two minutes of the song become repetitive after all the instruments have come in. This is due to the fact that only one line is being chanted for two minutes.
In all there are only three new songs on the album (including Adieu). First up is No Sssweat
which is one of the best songs on the album with it's fast verses, great synth in the background and it's chant of "You do this every ***ing time!". This is a song where bassist Chris Batten takes charge of vocals; his higher, cleaner voice compliments Rou's voicenicely throughout the album, and especially here. Immediately after No Sssweat is fellow new track Today Won't Go Down In History
, it's slow strumming along with gentle vocals creates a melancholy atmosphere to match it's lyrical content which is a dictator apologising (believe it or not), to his people after leading them to certain doom. It's downbeat mood is a welcome change and is a brief respite from the maddening mixture of post-hardcore and at times trance that ensues around it.
Take To The Skies
does answer the question of 'Can Enter Shikari live up to the hype?' The answer is certainly yes. However, it is not a resounding yes. This is because although Take To The Skies
soars most of the time, there are occasionally low-points. Fortunately it never crashes and burns and this is because Enter Shikari know how to write great songs and this album definitely shows this ability.