Review Summary: Attack Attack! Where you at?! Oh. Warped Tour? Shocker.Background Information
Attack Attack! is a self-proclaimed "synth-core" band from Columbus, Ohio. At this point, the readers may say to themselves "This is another scene gimmick that wont last and is just plain bad." But that's only one third right. While yes, it is a gimmick, and one increasing in numbers across the map, I do believe that if done right, it will be here for a while. And lastly, this album isn't terrible. In fact, and quite surprisingly, its decent. By playing a rather run of the mill brand of post-hardcore and infusing it with synthesizers and vocoders, Attack Attack! have put out a finished product that lacks focus, but is filled with enough fun moments to hold the listener's attention.
While it is true that the music itself is nothing new, the band is certainly capable of playing it well. On the more enjoyable tracks like Stick Stickly, The People's Elbow, and Dr. Sharvargo Pt. 3, AA show that they are more than able to craft a nice, catchy, hard-hitting song. The thing is that not all the songs are like this. Most are simply there, and while passable bring nothing noteworthy to the table. And some will just make you shudder with the cliched lyrics and erratic song structures. The track from which the album takes it's title, "Bro, Ashley's Here" is a prime example, along with other misguided attempts like "What Happens If I Can't Check My MySpace When We Get There? I'll touch on these tracks later, but a brief description of the music itself is in order.
Again, this is nothing you haven't heard elsewhere. Its chug chug guitars during breakdowns, and at other times they do have some nice riffs going for them, but are oftentimes overpowered by the synthesizers. That's not necessarily a bad thing though, as the synths are varied and add ambience to some songs, especially to moments like the first breakdown on Stick Stickly. The drumming is amazingly average and brings nothing new to the table. You have literally heard all of these beats before. The bass is completely inaudible. The best thing the sound has going for it though are the vocals. The clean singing is often recorded using a vocoder, creating the spacey, vaguely robotic tone fans of Hellogoodbye should be well acquainted with. The screaming is where they really shine. The screams might be tweaked in the studio, and probably are, but whatever was done to them worked. They are throaty, loud, and raw. Everything a scream should be. Austin Carlile might not be Frank Mullen. But he's good.
When Attack Attack! makes a good song, they make it damn good. Stick Stickly is the prime example of this. It starts out with a good scream to let you know that AA isn't another pussy synth band. The aforementioned chugging comes in for an early breakdown, supported by synth, and from there goes into a vocoded chorus, that is layered with screams and synths. The lyrics are good enough, if noticeably generic. The People's Elbow is the sole track that makes perfect use of synths, and is a definite highlight. Oddly enough it opens with a breakdown as well. The drumming here is about as good as it gets, with a couple solid fills. The thing that carries this track is the synths though. On this album, Dr. Sharvargo is on its third run, and definitely best, again led by synths and interesting drumming. This is one of the faster songs with dual vocals going and endless synth loops.
Sadly, for every Stick Stickly, there's a Bro, Ashley's Here. Monotonous synths, overly tweaked vocals, and weak breakdowns is what this song is all about. The chorus is a winner too, featuring such hypocrisies as "You don't have to be something you're not." Thanks Attack Attack!, but check out your music videos and tell me how unique you are.
This is by no means a bad record, and given the other options available in this vein of music (Breathe Carolina, Enter Shikari) this is a good
album. I hope to see this band progress and make a new full length with songs modeled after the tracks I mentioned. With a little more focus, and perhaps a year or two of experience, Attack Attack! might just be the next big thing.