Ambush Reality / Atlantic Records
15 June 2009
by Salvadore Fernandez
After shifting over 100,000 copies of their debut album, Take To The Skies without the help of a record label, it’s not difficult to see why there’s a hefty air of expectation about Common Dreads – the second effort from the Hertfordshire fusion mob.
Even if you highlight the fact that this strangely pioneering quartet have tapped into the psyche of every single chav out there with their sub-genre combination of hardcore and dubstep there’s no denying that there are a hell of a lot of tunes on Common Dreads.
Fair enough they’re hidden so deep, deep under the multitude layers of grunts, bleeps and musical belches that consistent and persistent listening is required to decipher those true tunes, but they’re there alright.
Going all the way from the crunching intro riffs to ‘Solidarity’ through the slowed-down brass- and percussion-filled ‘Wall’ and onto the glitch-fuelled anger of ‘Havoc B’ they display a musical maturity that was not afforded them in the past. However, being mature doesn’t automatically mean that one has to be overtly political.
While the opening title track is a collection of disparate voices talking about unity, madness and the future and there are various moments where people chant and moan about similar apocalyptic themes, Enter Shikari just don’t carry the kind of clout and credibility for anyone to really care.
It’s impressive that they’re not content with simply being a great-time band but when they’ve got brilliant songs like the aptly-titled oik anthem, ‘Hectic’, the swaggering, hilarious whistle-ability of ‘The Jester’ and the epic closer ‘Fanfare For The Conscious Man’ all in the last quarter of the album, they shouldn’t need to look further than just having some real quality.
Watch the video to ‘Juggernauts’ by Enter Shikari
Talking of progression, Rou Reynolds’ increasingly-spoken vocal forays have led him towards sounding like either a screeching Mike Skinner or a screeching Ollie Sykes. There’s no doubt that that newfound lyrical clarity complements the hectic musical melange behind him far better than in the past but with when it’s just semi-conveyed political and environmental commentary that becomes clear, maybe it’s best lost in the fug.
While Enter Shikari have long been a phenomenal live proposition, they’ve always lacked a lot of something on record. They have certainly sandbagged their position in the immediate British rock vernacular and many of their doubters will concede that it’s admirable they’ve achieved even this but they’re still more attractive on a stage than on your stereo.
With their insanely catchy singles all over the radio, however, you can expect Common Dreads to be flying out of stores and onto lavishly-coloured iPods across the country at some pace, whether you like it or not.
Sounds like: Enter Shikari, hardcore, rock, dubstep
Top tracks: Juggernauts, Antwerpen, Solidarity
Enter Shikari – Common Dreads tracklisting
No Sleep Tonight
Gap In The Fence
Fanfare For The Conscious Man