Review Summary: A worthy and fun follow-up from Common Dreads with a few surprises. However, it wears off very quickly.
Enter Shikari have become the band people love to hate. Sure these guys aren't as talented as the likes of Dream Theater, or as emotionally engaging as Bon Iver, but they have produced something different, something that, whether you like it or not, has taken the world of music by storm. Combining elements of Post-Hardcore, electronica, political ranting and anthemic hooks which sound something like a chant during a football game, they've made their mark of originality. But all that aside, there is always something to hate about these guys, whether it be there fan-base of girly haired scene kids, the over-pretentious political ranting, or even the combination of garage and post-hardcore, you have to hate these guys.
OK, I admit, I wasn't the biggest fan of their first two releases, I found Take To The Skies repetitive and messy, then Common Dreads generally under-whelming and irritating, I only enjoyed a selection of songs. And honestly, I've been trying to stay away from this album for a while now after they released 'Gandhi mate', but hearing all this hate I just couldn't resist picking on it myself. So I opened up Spotify, typed Enter Shikari with an unsure keyboard, and played through...
'System...' opens up in the same vein as Common Dreads, however, this time it fades into a corny fake violin section you'd probably hear on an 90's club classic, Rou then comes in singing about 'a house on cliff, and waves crashing into cliffs'. The lyrics produce minimal imagery, but still they are slightly engaging for an intro track to the album. The section that really stands out on this track is when Rou talks about childhood, 'When I was little I dressed up as an astronaut...', it's immediate that the album will have quite an emotional background to it. 'System...' is a more effective opening track than those off the first two albums, and draws you in quite nicely. 3/5.
'...Meltdown' continues straight from the opening track into a medley of breakdowns, electronica and screaming. This is the most intense track Enter Shikari have done since Take To The Skies, and is a really pumping exciting track to listen to. The drops on this track are a clash of crunchy distorted crashes and epic synth reminiscent of metalcore riffs, which creates a surprisingly unique and interesting sound. Rou's vocals here are great, providing some really intense screaming and chants. The track should be longer however, the chorus is addictive and makes you want to listen more. 4/5
'Sssnakepit' is probably the most standard track on the entire album. While it's catchy and anthemic, it wears off very shortly. The breakdown section is awful, it sounds like a group of young teenagers who've just picked up guitar and made there first ever breakdown. Not much else to say about this one. 2.5/5
'Search Party' is quite a jump from Sssnakepit. It begins with Rou singing calmly, and emotionally, then drops into a bouncy electronic rhythm. The chorus on this track is very-well done and catchy, with some great 'woah's' which would sound great at a gig. The instrumental section towards the end of the track is also an exciting show of post-hardcore riffs, and bouncy drums. 3.5/5
When I first heard 'Arguing With Thermometers', it sounded messy and generally awful. But listening through the album I saw a different light out of this track, and the more I play it, the more it grows. It still sounds messy, but messy in a hardcore way; the vocals are bizarre and addictive, the structure makes no sense, the lyrics are subtle but oddly work, the electronic section is deep, it's definately a song that needs a few listens to truly grow. 3.5/5
'Stalemate' is probably the most surprising song to come out of this album, it's an acoustic track reminiscent of 'Gap In The Fence', but does it a lot better. Rou's vocals really shine here, and it shows that this guy can actually sing, and on top of that, the lyrics are quite emotional and deep too. It's a great song, and a nice calm break from the intense shouting and electronica. I'd go as far to say it's one of the best songs to come out of the band, the piano ballad finale is beautiful, sounds like something from Queen. 4.5/5
The opening to 'Gandhi Mate, Gandhi' shows Rou passionately ranting about the society today, call it annoying or inspiring. But either way this is the worst song to ever come out of Enter Shikari next to 'No Sleep Tonight'. The vocals are irritating, the electronica is just down-right bad, and the guitars sound drained out. Netherertheless, it never fails to surprise, and the finale is quite fun. 1.5/5
Moving on from the dreadful Gandhi Mate, Gandhi, brings us a breath of fresh air called 'Warm Smiles, Do Not Make You Welcome Here'. Rou's vocals are fantastic here, trying for a higher tone, and the lyrics are great. The guitar section is also a nice surprise towards the end, it's definately one of the better songs on the album, and I'd recommend this one to anyone who's not sure about this. 4/5
'Pack Of Thieves' is one of the more anthemic tracks on the CD, and is also a generally good one. It is a really uplifting track, with some great electronica and an epic mix of instruments. The chorus is the highlight here, it'll be a brilliant set-up for a gig. 4/5
'Hello Tyrannosaurus, meet Tyrannicide' is an interesting track, definately more faithful to their first album with intense screaming and hardcore riffs. The instrumental section towards the end is probably the best on the CD, with some hard riffs mixed with deep crunchy electronics in a trippy rhythm. 3.5/5
Closing the album is 'Constellations', somewhat brings me back to when I first heard The Streets debut album, taking heavy influence. The lyrics are subtle but effective here, and done with such emotion. Gone are the heavy guitars, and electronic breakdowns, this beautiful ballad is actually the best song that has ever come from Enter Shikari. Rou's vocals suit him best on this song, and I'd love to hear album full of this. It's such a refreshing sound to hear. And a great closer to a great album. 5/5
I had a similar response after listening to Glassjaw's Worship and Tribute, it's best listened to as a whole and respecting what was done. I couldn't hate on this, there is effort and passion put into this album, it might be hard to notice, because they're a difficult band to take seriously, but I do appreciate what was done here. There's some good stuff, however, wears off very quickly after a week of listening.
Recommended Tracks: Stalemate, Warm Smiles Do Not Make You Welcome Here, Constellations.