Albums/EPs

ALBUM: Fightstar – Be Human

Release Date: April 20th, 2009
Label: Search And Destroy
Rating: 6/10

Website: www.fightstarmusic.com
MySpace: www.myspace.com/fightstar

Fightstar profile

Fightstar‘s new record ‘Be Human’ is a new start in many ways. They had to release it out their own in a joint venture with their management team, and they’ve whipped out the orchestras to take things epic. Now the normal heavy alt-rock sound is still there, the one that shut up the naysayers with their Busted-based arguments on debut ‘Grand Unification’, but now it sounds more like a soundtrack than a traditional album.

So, as I mentioned the first thing that is heard on the new album is a strong string section, something then clicked; Charlie Simpson likes Biffy Clyro. Biffy Clyro mixed hard rock with orchestral tendencies very recently. Is this a rock conspiracy?! Or a mere coincidence? That silliness aside, opener ‘Calling All Stations’ has a far grander feel than anything we’ve experienced from the band before. However, despite the new found love of classical instrumentation we find that Charlie Simpson‘s desperate sounding vocal is not lost, neither are the catchy punk pop choruses or the crunchy guitar work. However, the problem is unlike a lot of bands who have a lot of success melding the two, Fightstar seem to have difficulty finding the right balance between the grand and the rock. Songs like ‘War Machine’ would have been perfectly good with the strong song as it was and with some sweeping strings coming in towards the crescendo, but instead it permeates the entire song and takes it a little over the top. This pattern improves a lot with the first real hint of aggression on the album in ‘Colours Bleed To Red’ which has lots of riffs, arpeggios and neat little breakdowns and is a nice pop-punk jaunt with a slightly more brutal climax, and is the first song that doesn’t feel like Hans Zimmer lite. Things take a turn for the weird with the opening harmonica in ‘Whisperer’ which then takes a more traditional metal route guitar wise even if the vocal and melody doesn’t. However, the song then proceeds to change about three times, something very Biffy-esque if I dare to bring that up again. Once you get over the first quarter of the album though, things revert very much to the traditional sometimes soft sometimes heavy pop-rock Fightstar have built their reputation on. As the album goes on the orchestra compliments the songs rather than being a hindrance with some of the lush vocal sections in ‘Give Me The Sky’ being a good example. This trend continues with some nice growl sections with a neat segue into the clean ones in songs like ‘Chemical Blood’ which then does take an admitted turn for the Star Wars. Then there is the straight up heaviness that comes through in certain sections and like in ‘Give Me The Sky’ it works as a nice contrast to the orchestral sections because as songs like ‘Damocles’ show the balance is intricate.

Overall, Fightstar have crafted an album of their usual addictive, sometimes moshable, sometimes anthemic alt-pop-rock, but in places have overloaded it with symphonic qualities. In some places it really works, but in others it really doesn’t and finding the right mix is really the only place they went wrong here. But I guess if I’d hired a 16-piece orchestra I’d probably want to make the most of it.

Written by Paul Smith

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SINGLE: Fightstar – The English Way

Release Date: November 3rd, 2008
Label: Sandwich Leg
Rating: 8/10

Website: www.fightstarmusic.com
MySpace: www.myspace.com/fightstarmusic

Fightstar profile

It’s fair enough to say that Fightstar probably won’t ever be taken seriously by everybody who’s exposed to them, mainly due to Charlie Simpson‘s past in the huge pop-rock band, Busted. But, Fightstar has now been going for 5 years strong, and ‘The English Way’ is just one more piece of evidence that he clearly did the right thing forming this band.

‘The English Way’ is just another step forward for the band, creating that usual post-hardcore/alternative rock approach with catchy hooks to keep the songs in your head and remembered whether you hate it or not. It’s heavy yet approachable, and could pretty much be seen as a “fuck you” to all the haters that are still out there. The tag team-like vocal works of “You are, you are / You’re all around” between Charlie Simpson and Alex Westaway are still as strong and co-operational as ever.

Fightstar are a band in their own right, and by the sounds of things they won’t be going anywhere for a good while yet.

Written by Zach Redrup

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ALBUM: Every Time I Die – The Big Dirty

Release Date: September 4th, 2007
Label: Ferret Music
Rating: 8/10

Website: www.everytimeidie.com
MySpace: www.myspace.com/everytimeidie

Every Time I Die profile

Lots of bands go through constant member changes, sometimes this even leads these bands to split-up such as I Killed The Prom Queen. Every Time I Die is one of such bands, who seem to have little luck in keeping a permanent bassist, but they’ve stood strong and endured it all. With this they’ve created their newest labour of work, ‘The Big Dirty’.

The album name ‘The Big Dirty’ is one of the best ways for anyone to describe this band’s music. Everything they create is big in sound, and dirty and gritty within its layers. Throughout their entire career this is how it’s always been, and hopefully it always will be.

You’re instantly attacked with the band’s full-force with album opener ‘No Son Of Mine’. Crunching buzz-saw riffs and rampaging drums are plentiful, and they gain that extra push with the vocal work from Keith Buckley. His cynical and angry lyrics only add extra aggression into this piece, “Leave your drunken accident at the prom. / It’ll grow to mend your broken heart.” is evidence that this song is far from an uplifting and cheerful one.

Another stand-out moment on ‘The Big Dirty’ is ‘Rendez-Voodoo’. The opening lyric line itself is yet another display of the band’s sheer aggression which they bestow within themselves. “You’d better shove another piece of what’s left in your mouth while the getting is good.” yelled by Keith Buckley in a less aggressive manner than previously on this record. It seems much more of Southern Metal than their other 11 tracks, but they soon return back to familiar areas musically.

Hardcore/metalcore albums tend to sound similar throughout in a few of today’s cases, but Every Time I Die aren’t following that trend. Obviously they follow the clear conventions within their genre, but they’ve got much more to offer than what other bands have on their plates. The clean vocal work of Dallas Green from Alexisonfire found on ‘INRihab’ isn’t far from beautiful, which ironically is found within the core of all this rage.

Admittedly they do hold moments which are very similar to others, but what band doesn’t at times. The fact of the matter is they make their music exciting, intense, powerful, and within their lyrical work – aggressive.

If you’re a hardcore/metalcore fan then owning ‘The Big Dirty’ is a must. Cynical, powerful, brutal, and intense throughout, there’s definitely going to be many moments which you find exciting and enjoyable. And if you haven’t even heard of Every Time I Die by now, then where the fuck have you been?

Written by Zach Redrup

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SINGLE: Enter Shikari – No Sleep Tonight

Release Date: August 17th, 2009
Label: Ambush Reality
Rating: 6/10

Website: www.entershikari.com
MySpace: www.myspace.com/entershikari

Enter Shikari profile

Who’s have known that Enter Shikari‘s debut album ‘Take To The Skies’ would actually be explaining in short what the St. Albans quartet would be doing, and even further since the release of second full-length ‘Common Dreads’ earlier this year. Sadly though, it seems the boys have decided to take the weaker offering of ‘No Sleep Tonight’ from the record.

Sure, the single has the trademark Enter Shikari sound; the rock splashed with synth, and the catchy chanting chorus, but despite all this lacks the raw passion and energy that makes this band stand out from the rest. Undoubtedly it’s going to climb various charts and invade various music video channels on the television and radio stations, but we all know that the boys have much bigger gems in the treasure of ‘Common Dreads’.

Written by Zach Redrup

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ALBUM: Enter Shikari – Common Dreads

Release Date: June 15th, 2009
Label: Ambush Reality
Rating: 8/10

Website: www.entershikari.com
MySpace: www.myspace.com/entershikari

Enter Shikari profile

With the St. Alban’s debut ‘Take To The Skies’, four-piece Enter Shikari brought mainly old songs which over time they had perfected and honed over years of shows, re-writes, and various re-recordings. So when album number two was coming along and the band announced it was going to have a political and economic driven influence aswell as having to write entirely new material, many had doubts as to how well the boys could pull it off. Come June 2009 and ‘Common Dreads’ is the end result, delivering exactly what the band had said they would in their post-hardcore/trance fashion. With the world in such a shit state right now, many bands are having their say about it, though no-one thought that Enter Shikari would be one of such bands – but maybe they were always in some sense trying to deliver an important message in a more metaphorical sense.

The sound of Enter Shikari hasn’t altered much over the past two years, if anything they’ve only matured and expanded their capabilities. ‘Solidarity’ soars things off with a fast-paced trance intro taking us to frontman Rou Reynold‘s yelled “Here tonight I clock a thousand heads / Here to unite through common dreads”; summing up the whole album’s message in just one sentence, before galloping to a choir assisted climax. Lead single ‘Juggernauts’ contains much of the same properties – the quick lead synth riff along with a balance of clean Mike Skinner-esque vocals, with little bursts of screams here and there. This time around, the band has even dwelled into much heavier and chaotic regions with ‘Zzzonked’. The more dub-step influence on the music along with it takes the band and their sound onto new yet familiar ground for them to work upon, and clearly showcases Rou‘s deep anger upon the world’s current state of affair. Where the synth is involved, things have clearly dipped into various different genres and chucking them into Enter Shikari‘s mix, and churned into different and experimental products – which have all turned out in their favour. ‘The Jester’ is definitely a weird one that will stick out, bringing in a funky almost metallic sounding dance input halfway through. Combined with its heavy and aggressive nature, you get confused as whether you should dance or mosh along to it.

Just as much as the band have brushed upon heavier sounds, they’ve still got the more mellow and radio-friendly inserts; such as ‘No Sleep Tonight’ and ‘Wall’, though still based around the album’s overall message of current affairs. These two are definitely the more approachable and sing-a-long moments in the record – though admittedly they don’t approach anywhere near the timid nature of ‘Adieu’ or ‘Today Won’t Go Down In History’ from the band’s debut effort. Fun memories of the member’s times past come out in ‘Hectic’, referring to going “To the multi-storey car park with our friends / Drinking from a bottle of White Lightning” and playing “Sega Megadrive, Golden Axe and Sonic all day” helps bring the tone of serious to fun for a short moment.

Enter Shikari claimed they’d deliver the goods, and that’s exactly what they did. ‘Common Dreads’ is a huge expansion and step up from their 2007 debut, and chucks in a load of new things whilst improving upon the old. In their own words, “Here comes another Juggernaut!”.

Written by Zach Redrup

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SINGLE: Enter Shikari – Juggernauts

Release Date: June 1st, 2009
Label: Ambush Reality
Rating: 8/10

Website: www.entershikari.com
MySpace: www.myspace.com/entershikari

Enter Shikari profile

It’s always nice when something you get does exactly what it does on the tin, and ‘Juggernauts’ is one of such things – the first release from Enter Shikari since November’s re-recorded ‘We Can Breathe In Space…’ and the first to be taken from the band’s eagerly awaited upcoming album ‘Common Dreads’.

Fast-paced electronic synth lines from the first second drives the political and enviromentally aware-led anthem into a Mike Skinner-esque verse, speaking of the world as a home “Now don’t get me wrong, I love what you’ve done with the place / I just wish we had a chance to help build it / Instead of just moving into this home of disrepair / And expect it to work, prosper, and then share”. This slowed-down pace doesn’t last though, the band bludgeoning us with frontman Rou Reynold‘s yell of “Switch!” back into the synth and rock attack for the remaining two and half minutes of audio chaos. We only meet calm once again in the closing seconds of single acoustic and vocal chorus, making diversity as important and present as excitement in this effort.

For the protection of yourself and others around please keep your arms, legs, and everything else away from the speakers – Enter Shikari are back with a big one!

Written by Zach Redrup

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SINGLE: Enter Shikari – We Can Breathe In Space, They Just Don’t Want Us To Escape

Release Date: November 3rd, 2008
Label: Ambush Reality
Rating: 7/10

Website: www.entershikari.com
MySpace: www.myspace.com/entershikari

Enter Shikari profile

With it being a good while since the release and major hype of their debut album ‘Take To The Skies’, it’s about time they gave us something new to refresh our minds as to why we love Enter Shikari so much. As with all their previously released material, ‘We Can Breathe In Space, They Just Don’t Want Us To Escape’ as a slice of fun and energetic post-hardcore music fused with electronic input.

Though ‘We Can Breathe In Space…’ is fairly known anyway due to an old demo of the track floating around online, this reinvented and reworked effort revives and replenishes its old form and gives it a new face. Despite this though, it doesn’t quite seem up to scratch to what you’d expect, slightly lacking that huge kick in the face Enter Shikari is known for. But, it’s none the less welcomed with wide open arms as a bridge from the previous album to the next.

Nice one lads, we’ve missed you.

Written by Zach Redrup

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ALBUM: Enjoy Destroy – Little Dreams

Release Date: March 17th, 2008
Label: Fire One Records
Rating: 7/10

Website: www.enjoydestroy.com
MySpace: www.myspace.com/enjoydestroy

Enjoy Destroy profile

When listening to ‘Little Dreams’, you’d find it pretty hard to believe that such talent and raw velocity would come from a band where the members are as young as under their 20’s. However, Basingstoke’s Enjoy Destroy seem to manage it with no problem at all.

Their album opener, and also first single release from the album ‘Mactier’ pretty much sums up in a nutshell what you’re to find in the core of this record; emotional vocals, energetic music, and sing-a-long lyrics and chorus hooks plentiful throughout. The closing repeated lines “I guess it’s just a matter of taste”, phasing us off into the next 10 tracks of what is ‘Little Dreams’.

As mentioned earlier, this album has plenty of catchy chorus which you want to sing, or in some cases chant along to. This is evident in tracks such as ‘Cities’ with the “Na-na-na, na-na-na”, and a similar feature in the track ‘Screamer’, with a long sustained “Yeah!” brought in at various parts in the chorus. Enjoy Destroy know how to get these songs stuck in your head, and in most cases get you playing the song again, and again.

Although for the most part of the album you’ll get the impression that Enjoy Destroy come off as sort of a younger, rawer, and arguably slightly more exciting version of Feeder at their heaviest, they also have their moments of mellowing out and taking things a little slower. The track the album takes it’s name from ‘Little Dreams’ is just one of such examples, opening the track with a slow guitar riff and soft vocals drawing you ever so closer as the song slowly builds up into a climax.

‘LBJ’ has a similar effect too, with softer and calmer sections of the song being presented before the songs blows up into an explosive chorus. It also shows a darker a much more sinister side of Enjoy Destroy than you’re likely to find in any of their catalogue to this date, with lines such as “How many kids did you kill today?” revealing something a little more macabre onto the listener’s palette.

Enjoy Destroy are young, and though they have much more to learn and develop upon, they certainly have the time and the talent to pull it off. ‘Little Dreams’ has almost everything on offer; calm sections, moments that just explode, and catchy sing-a-long hooks just to sweeten your appetite.

Written by Zach Redrup

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SINGLE: Enjoy Destroy – Little Dreams

Release Date: October 22nd, 2007
Label: Fire One Records
Rating: 7/10

Website: www.enjoydestroy.com
MySpace: www.myspace.com/enjoydestroy

Enjoy Destroy profile

To coincide with their debut album release – ‘Little Dreams’ – Basingstoke’s Enjoy Destroy release their next single lifted from the record, which is of the same name.

The song builds up from a slow and quiet guitar riff of individually picked notes, up until the half-way point where the band blasts into a full force of music and energy. Although this single is good, it’s not the best the band have come up with, and may not neccesarily be a stand-out track on their album for most people. However, that certainly doesn’t mean that the song disappoints, with the force given from this song being much more entertaining and engaging than most of the offerings we get from the mainstream radio charts.

A must have for the already converted hoardes of die-hards, and a neat little introduction to the album for everyone else. A job well done.

Written by Zach Redrup

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SINGLE: Enjoy Destroy – Screamer

Release Date: October 22nd, 2007
Label: Fire One Records
Rating: 9/10

Website: www.enjoydestroy.com
MySpace: www.myspace.com/enjoydestroy

Enjoy Destroy profile

Enjoy Destroy have not long finished a UK tour supporting Reuben during late September and early October, and now they’ve got single ‘Screamer’ for us to listen to.

Exciting from the start, crunching guitar riffs open this sound perfectly and sets the right mood for what the rest of the song is. Although simple it’s very effective. Once you reach the chorus it’s clear why this song’s entitled ‘Screamer’, with an obvious sing-a-long chorus that will get stuck in your head with ease; “Don’t you dare / Don’t you dare / Don’t forget it now.” This is obvious single material.

‘Screamer’ is a monster of a song, and a good piece of alternative rock if that’s what you’re into, and probably the best thing to ever come out of Basingstoke. If you’ve not heard these guys before, there’s no point in waiting much longer and missing out.

Written by Zach Redrupbr>

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