Enter Shikari have made a dent to say the least. They mix “heavy” post-hardcore with a lighter side of trance music. And the British public love it. Take To The Skies
reached number 4 in the UK album chart with more than 60,000 sales. They seem to be the perfect band for all the kids who want to listen to heavy music while retaining the sense of fun that one would equate with a night out at the clubs. Because they seem to be the only band to be doing this, some people would think of them as ‘revolutionary’ and ‘experimental’. While these tags may stand, they give the impression that Enter Shikari do what they do well.
Roughton Reynolds (or just Rou) handles the verbal side. He writes the lyrics and then on top of that, he takes the lead vocalist spot. He mixes together clean vocals with rougher hardcore vocals. The hardcore side of his voice, for want of a better word, is terrible. It sounds horrible and strained. It has all the characteristics of someone who shouldn’t be trying to scream like that. His scream imparts the image that if he kept on going, he would be coughing up blood into the mic, which is not pretty. His clean vocals on the other hand, are actually rather pleasant. They are nothing special but they get the job done. He has been given a decent range and he chooses to use it. The best comparison for his voice would be Rody Walker from Protest The Hero, just with more of an English accent and not quite as good. It is a shame that Rou does not just sing cleanly for the whole album, as that would make it infinitely more enjoyable. Thankfully, he forgoes the harsh vocals for most of the album, but they are still used far too much.
Rou also handles the synthesized elements on this album. For the most part, these are pretty good, if a little common. They create a good contrast to the heavily down tuned guitars. The keys, when they are there, are generally quite prominent and well mixed, rather than just having separate synth and guitar songs. The best song to listen to for the trance side would be Mothership
. The song starts on the very danceable synths, which fade in and out, then become constant. It’s something that everyone vaguely familiar with trance music will have heard before. The only thing that stops people calling it generic is the mix with the heavier side of the music. This is true for the majority of the album and repeated listens really accentuate this problem, which really tends to drag after a while.
Everything else on the album is pretty useless. The guitar never strays out of its comfort zone, which restricts it to recycling riffs that have been heard literally thousands of times before, hitting drop D chords in different rhythms in an attempt to bring variety. The best riff on the album belongs to Sorry, You’re Not A Winner
, which coincidentally is the best song. The triplets could be interesting, but that possibility goes out the window with the fact that they are repeated throughout practically the whole song, only letting up to allow the synths to take the spotlight and then going soft by simply palm muting in the bridge. The bass similarly falls into this rut. The only real standout for the bass is on Today Won’t Go Down In History
, where it takes on the whole song by itself, creating a nice rolling intro, which is soon accompanied by Rou. After this section though, the song fails to create anything that stands out. Meanwhile, the drums never stray away from their bass and snare, only adding to the monotony of each song.
The real problem with this album is the lack of really memorable moments. There is no time where you can say, ‘oh that was a really good hook right there’ or ‘those drums blow my mind’ because there are no moments like that. Anyone who spends a reasonable amount of time listening to music will have heard most of this before, but in a different and mostly better context. Whereas bands like Protest The Hero or Refused are interesting just by the sheer amount of things they do, this band is boring because they do the same thing basically over and over again. Also, it may look like there are a lot of songs on this record, but a considerable amount of them are just instantly throwaway interludes which serve no real purpose. The imagination just is not there and it really does become a hindrance after a short time.
Kudos to the band for trying though. They are doing something relatively new, and they seem to be making a fair bit of money from it, so they can not be faulted for that. While the music appeals to the public because of its methods and adding more poppy elements to otherwise unknown post-hardcore which is something that rarely, if ever, enters the charts en masse. But to a music lover, it does not satisfy. The dull instruments accompanying the dull synths and the mediocre vocalist fail to bring something that is truly revolutionary. With a little more imagination and talent, this could have been a good album, but of course it is only their first, so they could be great. They just need to find their feet.