H&B Music 001

Enter Shikari: A Flash Flood of Colour by George Mole

Enter Shikari (ES) erupted onto the post-hardcore music scene in 2004 with a progressive and exuberant single entitled, ‘Sorry you’re not a winner!’ instantly entrenching their own unique sound, (even if it took 3 years to spread it). In 2007 they became winners of Kerrang! Awards, Best Live Band and Spirit of Independence, and NME’s John Peel Awards for musical innovation, but to be honest, no one quite knew what the sound was. This wasn’t your regular post-hardcore, metal or punk band, and for some reason the lead singer was using a weird synth controller most of us only thought we vaguely recognised from videos of bands like The Pet Shop Boys on TOTP2. Yet, it took off! So how does a band follow an incendiary debut album, as ‘Take to the Skies’?

First off, ‘Common Dreads’ propelled the bands sound tremendously, but it was to the detriment of their critics as the album provoked some troubling reviews. NME compared the album to the existence of anti matter, or the Brooklyn Beckham autobiography in that, ‘some things are just too weird to contemplate for very long’ and that kind of captures the  album’s reception. Yet this didn’t deter Roughton and the boys to conform or revert to their debut sound, but go even further.

One of the most enticing attributes Enter Shikari posses is their hubris in promoting a progressive sound. They don’t tend to stick to what they know, and as a veteran fan, it’s exciting! I first got round to listening to this album 3 weeks ago and I hated it. I even told my house mate (who didn’t even know who ES were) how disappointed I was, but that I would keep listening to it out of respect for their impressive back catalogue…and it paid off. Within a week of my initial hearing, I was raving about how much I loved this album, and to be honest, I’m still listening to it regularly.

I think that the thing that makes me rate this album so highly was the fact that with their progressive hybrid metal/electro/dub sound, remnants of both ‘Take to the Skies’ and ‘Common Dreads’ are clearly audible. At the beginning of the album, Rou’s Korg Electribe EMX greets the listener as an old friend, and brings you straight back to the familiar sound of their second album, ‘Common Dreads’ really setting the tone for record. Where tracks like ‘Havoc A’ and ‘Havoc B’ were too much for the hordes of fans from the early days, AFFC pulls back slightly from overt dubstep elements, and integrates bass and synth samples much more cohesively with the metal element – much like ‘Zzzonked’ did. Furthermore, singles like ‘Hello Tyrannosaurus, Meet Tyrannicide’ feel like an indirect descendant of the ‘Take to the Skies’ era, with abrupt screaming and abstract drum beats in the verses before a heavily bass influenced chorus developed from their new sound.

Furthermore, if you have ever been to an Enter Shikari gig, or seen them at a festival, you will know that these greasy-skinned, teenaged scene-kids go surprisingly hard in the pits – because they have to match the efforts of the 20-somethings that grew up with the band. The latest tracks, ‘Arguing with Thermometers’ and ‘Sssnakepit’ are certainly going to reproduce the regular carnage of the ES pits (to the delight of us veterans) and the elevated electronic/bass/dub element elucidated in the ‘Meltdown’ bridge, is likely to attract a new kind of audience in conjunction.

Although Rou, in an interview with YouTube’s RockAndMetalNewz, argued that the album covers a lot of different topics, it doesn’t. If you have listened to the album already, you’ll know that the message has barely progressed from the, ‘Capitalism is bad. Let’s all live in anarcho-syndicalist communes’ vibe that formed the basis of ‘Common Dreads’, but it doesn’t really bother me, and it shouldn’t bother anyone else. The musical element of their work is key for me, and the vocals are a secondary concern. Their constant enthusiasm to improve on their discography and push the boundaries of genre are what drive ES from strength to strength, and above the gaggle of so many post-hardcore bands nowadays. This small group of friends have re-imagined the possibilities of their instruments and sounds to give birth to a completely unique sound. One of my good friends told me, ‘You can never judge an album on it’s first listen’ and AFFC is homage to this teaching.

“Don’t be fooled into thinking that a small group of friends, cannot change the world.”