Attack Attack!

This Means War

Written by: AP on 17/01/2012 21:22:52

Call me a cynic, but I half-expected Attack Attack!'s latest album to be dubstep themed. After all, the band have never been pioneers, but mere fashionistas looking to capitalize on the current trends. Remembering this, it is perhaps unsurprising then, that Attack Attack! should have extracted the main component of the sound that comprises "This Means War" from djent. Whatever it takes to stay relevant, right?

Indeed, at first it seems the electronica element that used to form the backbone of the band's sound has been abolished. "The Revolution" appears to be more closely related to the recent heavier output of The Devil Wears Prada than to eurodance, and even as a profound denouncer of everything this band has managed to stitch together until now, I must admit this song signifies a new beginning for the band. Although it certainly is not the pinnacle of contemporary music, metalcore or otherwise, the distance it puts between the Attack Attack! of old and the Attack Attack! of the now is enormous. With "This Means War", it seems, Attack Attack! have at last become a band worth raising an eyebrow for.

Second song "The Betrayal" - each of the ten songs on the album is titled in similar fashion - reminds us that Caleb Shomo is still very much into programming, synthesizers and keyboard, but to everyone's benefit the eurodance cheesefests have, in fact, been binned in favor of a more focused sound centered on metalcore. No one in their right mind would dare call songs like "The Hopeless" and "The Reality" innovative, but anyone appreciative of the crushing guitar tone that Architects employed on "Hollow Crown" should find a wealth of possibilities for violent headbanging and moshing in them.

Another aspect of "This Means War" that speaks to me favorably about Attack Attack!, though it may displease their notoriously superficial fanbase somewhat, is how Shomo assigns some credibility to his band by not resorting to autotune now that he handles clean vocal duties in the studio (singing live is a session guitarist called Sean Mackowski). His lyrics may induce more grimace than approval, but the singing sounds genuine and true to his abilities. Alas, fans of the overblown robotic voices of former singer Johnny Franck might not condone the sudden manifestation of real singing in sure shot radio hits like "The Motivation" and "The Wretched".

But even though such pop predilections are clearly an important part of Attack Attack!'s music, the emphasis - from a vocal perspective - is still on Shomo's screaming, also radically different from the band's past two endeavors. The deep, guttural growls heard on these have been exchanged for a more modern, high-pitched style reminiscent of The Devil Wears Prada's Mike Hranica and Greeley Estates' Ryan Zimmerman, which is far easier on the ears and even serves to afford Attack Attack! some much needed edge.

On the surface of it thus, Attack Attack! have underwent a profound transformation, clearly hoping to pursue a more diverse range of audiences. Now that the table is set for bigger, better things to come, they might as well rid themselves of the stigmatizing teenage angst that continues to resonate from their lyrics and image. Musically "This Means War" marks a vital step for this polarizing band, but they need to transcend the "screams, whines, and wears all black" phase that most bands in this trade go through in order to become a band that can universally be taken seriously. Come on, "The Eradication" is downright embarrasing.

6

Download: The Revolution, The Motivation, The Wretched, The Confrontation
For the fans of: The Devil Wears Prada; Of Mice & Men; Woe, Is Me
Listen: Facebook

Release date 17.01.2012
Rise Records

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