Review Summary: emoviolence at its best
Screamo has a lot more balls than ever really given credit for; while many people who are truly unfamiliar will wrongly accuse bands such as My Chemical Romance or Taking Back Sunday as the genre, real screamo easily has the potential to match metal in sheer aggression. While bands like the Russian Reka combine post-metal to beef up their sound, other bands like Someplace to Hide skillfully combine elements of post-hardcore and metalcore into their scathing screamo assault to create a force that is hard to reckon with. Formed in 1999 Shikari are yet another example of over-driven screamo that highlights the genres more violent tendencies; consisting of all their recorded material from their year of formation to 2003, 1999-2003 is a great compilation that showcases one of emoviolence's best acts.
Starting chronologically with the song "Post Student Syndrome" (the first track off their debut release Robot Wars), even in their formative years Shikari's sound was well thought and perfectly executed; the aforementioned track for instance is a spectacular combination of chaotic blast-beat driven hardcore sections, metal influenced riffs and powerviolence like dissonance. Although the music always maintains the emoviolence elements of the band as the base for the songs, each track does feature some interestingly diverse interludes and sections that give the album some great personality. "Encounters" offers up some excellent thrash inspired hardcore riffs and in later tracks such as "Morning Wood" the band even experiments a bit more with melody, sections that definitely display their screamo roots more prominently.
Clean and concise, Shikari obviously know how to play their instruments well, performing extreme techniques like blast-beats and tremolo picked riffs with utter perfection, never losing time or sloppily transitioning from section to section. When it comes to instrumental prowess, 1999-2003 is just packed with quality musicianship; "Utopia Dismantled" features some excellent drumming thanks to Michael, who isn't afraid to let his metal influences shine playing some pretty slick double-bass lead sections. "Robot Wars" is another excellent tune that really showcases the talents of vocalist Mark who for the most part sticks to a high pitched screech atypical of the screamo genre but also is capable of some pretty awesome mid-ranged vocals that have some nice bite to them. Overall Shikari proves to be a consistent band, providing many years of material that as evidenced by this compilation kicks butt. If you like screamo that isn't afraid to come out of its shell and beat the crap out of someone then Shikari's 1999-2003 is the perfect release for you.