Enter Shikari

Take To The Skies

Written by: PP on 27/03/2007 17:10:25

Sold out shows at the Brixton Academy. Front page features in the biggest music publications. Gig reviews in mainstream London freesheets. Enter Shikari managed all that before even releasing their debut album "Take To The Skies" thanks to the massive hype by the underground press largely due to their unique blend of Eurotrance and hardcore, dubbed as "trance-core" by many scenesters. But are they really worth that much hype?

There are certainly some songs that justify all the hype in the world. After the curious trance introduction, the band breaks into their namesake track "Enter Shikari" and all hell breaks lose after the slower introduction. This song forms the basis of the band's sound, where Eurodance-style keyboards you might hear in any popular discoteque are combined with hardcore breakdowns, unmelodic guitars and the raspy screamo vocals. It's as catchy as it is brutal and as trance as it is hardcore, making it appeal to what is possibly the strangest combination of audiences any band has had to date. Going to an Enter Shikari gig is a strange experience, because you get the neon-clothed ravers waving glow sticks and the tightly-dressed tattoeed hardcore scenesters creating mosh pits, resulting in a chaotic mess of mosh pits and rave dancers all dancing in unison while the band themselves are intensely energetic and 'scene' on stage. This partly explains why the band has exploded onto the scene so fast in recent months, because the target audience is much wider than, say, a band like Fear Before The March Of Flames has.

"Mothership" is another standout track that more or less defines what Enter Shikari are trying to do here, and although they aren't necessarily as successful as Fear Before The March Of Flames in their breed of experimental hardcore, they still emit a similar vibe, and especially the screamo/clean contrast and the gang shouts in the chorus of the track instantly remind me of the new FBTMOF album.

But "Take To The Skies" has parts in it where the band doesn't quite deliver. Though much of the album is dominated by Rou's raspy screamo and heavy breakdowns, parts of it has clean singing some might even categorize as beautiful, but to me these songs don't work nearly as well as the aggressive ones that mix together the two styles in a 70-30 split. This is why "Labyrinth"'s Europe-style introduction is one of my favorites, because it is immediately contrasted by screamo that almost treads into the growl-territory, but the similar trance-style in "Jonny Sniper" and "Adieu" sounds just far too indie-experimental to align with the rest of the album. They instead seem like attempts to artificially inflate the sound to be bigger than it is.

No matter how cool and innovative a large part of "Take To The SKies" is in my opinion, I don't want to give it all roses in the rating scale because of the worrying number of songs that are just not up to the par, the five "Untitled" intermissions/track introductions kept in mind here. Trance has never been a genre to be taken seriously when self-standing, so when you remove the guitars from the Enter Shikari sound, these too sound awful for the most part. But bearing in mind this is just their debut, some of the songs are simply amazing. "No Sssweat" is exactly how I imagined trance fitting into punk-influenced hardcore, and "Mothership" just rips through you like a proper hardcore song should. So are these guys just a one hit wonder, or will they stay as the scenester's wet dream in the future too? We'll have to wait for the next album, but I'll be waving my green glowstick meanwhile.


Download: Mothership, No Sssweat, Enter Shikari
For the fans of: Fear Before The March Of Flames, HORSE The Band, The Fall Of Troy, The Bled
Listen: Myspace

Release date 19.03.2007
Ambush Reality

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