Manic Street Preachers
Know Your Enemy



by AliW1993 USER (134 Reviews)
June 13th, 2009 | 12 replies

Release Date: 2001 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Although not a great album overall, Know Your Enemy conatins some forgotten gems that ultimately make the album worthwile.

Coming to think of it, it's amazing how many bands that were hugely popular in the early nineties suffered a slump towards the end of that decade and into the new millennium, shortly after achieving their greatest critical and commercial success. One band that instantly comes to mind is Metallica, who lost much of their fanbase and never again reached the critical or commercial heights of the black album with the release of the Loads. Green Day are another who suffered from waning popularity after the release of Dookie, though they have since recovered and become arguably even larger. Manic Street Preachers are another popular nineties band who suffered in this way, and although they remain one of Britain's best loved bands, one cannot imagine them matching the success of their mid-nineties peak in the future.

Guitarist Richey Edwards antics, as well as the attitude of the band and some fantastic tunes got the Manic Street Preachers noticed in the early nineties. 1994's Edwards dominated The Holy Bible is generally regarded as their masterpiece, but it was after the guitarists disappearance that the Manics achieved their greatest commercial success, with 1996's Everything Must Go. Unfortunately, things only went downhill from there, and although 1998's This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours is rarely mentioned in the same sentence as its two predecessors, Know Your Enemy is generally viewed by both fans and critics as the beginning of the rot.

However, totally dismissing this album as a throwaway lowlight of the bands career would be wrong, as it is certainly not without merit. Although never really reaching the heights of their glory days, Know Your Enemy does contain a number of gems that are all too often forgotten behind the albums bad reputation. Opener Found That Soul is one of these, with a strong chorus and aggressive guitars making it an early highlight. These guitar driven songs really stand out among the more laid back ballads, especially as the bands last two albums were made largely of these slower numbers. Although not all of these guitar driven rockers are outstanding, they are refreshing among the slower material, and provide an enjoyable throwback to the bands earlier work. Particularly impressive is Intravenous Agnostic, a wonderful song characterized by an energetic main riff, and possibly the albums strongest moment.

There are great moments amongst the ballads as well, with the singles Let Robeson Sing and So Why So Sad displaying wonderful melodies, as well as choruses up there with the Manics best. It is largely believed that the Manics lyrics have gone downhill since Edwards disappearance, but lyrically Let Robeson Sing is one of their most powerful, being a tribute to black American actor, singer and civil rights campaigner Paul Robeson. Unfortunately many of the others don't share these qualities, and can become boring as a result. This tediousness is not helped by the albums excessive length, over seventy-five minutes, which can become as much of an obstacle as the poor filler on it. The band also tried a few experiments on this album, most likely in an attempt to diversify their sound. The most obvious of these, Miss Europa Disco Dancer is as the title may suggest a funky disco song, very different from anything the band had tried before and since. Although this individual song is not terrible, it does not compliment the flow of the album at all, and is one of the reasons why Know Your Enemy has gained such negative feedback.

Despite its flaws, of which there are plenty, Know Your Enemy is a very adequate album, though it's easy to see why it's so often hated upon. It's not their best album, and is certainly not essential, but should not be totally ignored because of this. For those looking to get into the band, there are far better places to start, but for existing fans this album is well worth a look, as amongst the average filler and ill-advised experiments lies some of the Manic Street Preachers most underrated work.

Recommended Tracks
Intravenous Agnostic
Let Robeson Sing
So Why So Sad
Found That Soul

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Comments:Add a Comment 
June 13th 2009


love me some holy bible
but ill probably stay away from this

June 13th 2009


great review. that said, i can't believe you rate everything in their discography (including the holy bible and everything must go) on par with this!

June 13th 2009


Album Rating: 2.5

I actually think their earlier work is overrated, but I can kinda see why most people love it so much. I might bump The Holy Bible up to a 3.5, but I just don't see it as the classic it's so often made out to be. Gold Against The Soul is probably my fav album by them but I haven't decided what to rate it yet.

June 13th 2009


Album Rating: 3.0

Good review.

For some reason Ocean Spray doesn't appear on forever delayed, in fact only one track off of this and one track off of the Holy Bible (Faster) are on it. Stupidity.

June 14th 2009


Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, Ocean Spray is a favourite of mine

June 14th 2009



June 27th 2009


Yeah, Green Day! Naming one of your songs after a Manics album!

September 8th 2010


Album Rating: 2.0

and the Manics for naming their album after a Rage Against the Machine song...

The problem with the album the songs copy other band's styles too closely.

The Stooges on Found that Soul, Beach Boys - Why so Sad, R.E.M - The Year of Purification

Sonic Youth - Intravenous Agnostic, The Fall - Wattsville Blues

Still some good songs but a disappointing effort after the hat trick of Holy Bible, Everything Must Go and Truth(which was let down by one or two weak songs from being a classic)

September 8th 2010


Album Rating: 3.0

The first six songs off of this would make an excellent EP, though.

Being very much in love with this band though, even this is a 3 for me, and I even enjoy some of the weaker songs

October 30th 2011


Totally agree with Asiatic667 the first 6 songs are quite enjoyable....

March 24th 2013


gud album

September 18th 2013


Album Rating: 4.0

I enjoy all songs from this aside from Wattsville Blues and Miss Europa Disco Dancer. I actually think it's one of their best despite its length. A really underrated LP imo.


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