Enter Shikari – Common Dreads
Ambush Reality / Tiny Evil
June 15, 2009
What It Sounds Like: A seamless mix of post-hardcore and electronica from Hertfordshire that will have the kids from each side of the club shaking hands. Lasers, fog machines, and dance beats one minute, and then screams and big guitars the next. It’s a hardcore cyberpunk’s dream come true: Hacking the mainframe with lightning-fast keystrokes and this record wailing through their speakers.
In a day and age of so many artists sounding the same, especially in the post-hardcore arena, Enter Shikari stick out. It’s not that they’re just better at their craft than others, but they’re actually unique.
“Unique? Everything has been done before. Nothing is unique.”
True, true – everything is derived from something else. But I can’t name another band who has gained any sense of notoriety by doing it like this. As already somewhat stated, this band mixes heavy music with electronica so gracefully, it’s like a well-tied knot. Their first record, Take To The Skies, was most certainly more of a post-hardcore effort with electronic elements. This one turns the synth/ drum&bass aspects up even higher and takes the band to a level where they would sound incomplete if one of the elements was dropped out. The hardness of the music depends on the electronica, and the electronica is eternally tied to the driving guitars and rhythm sections.
These guys know that they’re good at what they do, and they strive to turn the dramatics up a notch. The records starts with an Anarchism intro of warbled voices in various languages stating things like:
We must unite!
This is madness!
We must no longer commute between brand laden homes and quickly accepted, aimless roams from our factories of slavery to wars of illusive bravery!
Have mercy, let’s take it down a notch, boys. I feel like I’m being given commands by the Red Queen. But I can’t deny – it’s appealing. Everybody wants something to fight against.
Solidarity is a fantastic lead-off. You can see the strobe lights going crazy during that opening keyboard loop, and when the guitars pummel themselves in – it all just works, simple and plain. No hiccups. No force. Just a perfect meld.
They play all sides of the coin with very well, showcasing a softer, more melodic side in Gap In The Fence (with a huge electro-beat ending), and the harder, more powerful side in tracks like Step Up. Plus, even when they throw experimental nutcases like Zzzonked into the mix, they still manage to land on their own two feet. Anything that veers off that path that seems like it would be sonically unpleasing to the ear is complimented by something that is able to have its melody picked out fairly simply, making for a record of winner after winner. The addition of a ton of clean vocals on this record (compared with mostly screams on the last record) is a huge improvement as well. It’s all about balance. Enter Shikari are on their way to mastering it. They’re not there yet, of course not – but they’re making wonderful strides.
As you may have already guessed from the intro of this record, much of the lyrical content wants to take on governmental structures and excessive use of power and various political oversights. These dudes love their history and making references to it. They talk about Chernobyl. They make a Silvius Brabo reference. They get right up in your face and scream things like, Our gracious queen should grasp her crown, and take a good f–king swing at Blair and Brown!”
When it’s all said and done however, what we have a solid record that is completely listenable, unique, and dare I even say- cutting edge. Some will hear a bunch of noise and electro-mess. That’s fine, I get you. Lead vocalist Rou Reynolds isn’t even that great of a singer, and the delivery with his accent may be hard for some to stomach. But if you do like post-hardcore music, and you do like electronica, you gotta give this a listen.
If you had to listen to two tracks: Solidarity / Zzzonked