Saturday, March 10, 2012

Artist of the Week: ENTER SHIKARI

Fresh off the release of their third and most recent album, A Flash Flood of Colour, Enter Shikari is making waves with their unconventional and intensely satisfying blend of music. Equal parts metal, pop, and dubstep, Enter Shikari's music defies convention and is likely to elicit a chorus of "WTFs" from many upon initial exposure. Should I sing to it? Dance to it? Mosh to it? All three, at the same time, actually.

Originally hailing from Hertfordshire, England, the four-piece is still gaining mainstream popularity in the U.S. but is the benefactor of a strong radio presence and widespread support in their homeland. Their 2007 debut Take To The Skies debuted at #4 on the UK Albums Chart, while the aforementioned A Flash Flood of Colour charted at #1 in January. I was initially exposed to Enter Shikari's idiosyncratic stylings with the single "Sorry, You're Not A Winner," which was featured in EA Sports' NHL 08 video game and lays down one of the most creative closing breakdowns in metalcore history.

Fans of post-hardcore bands like Chiodos and Asking Alexandria will immediately identify with Enter Shikari's blend of clean and screamed vocals, metal-influenced riffs, and chugga-chugga breakdowns. However, what sets Enter Shikari apart from their peers has been a large and increasingly utilized dose of electronic elements, ranging from the nintendo-esque beeps in "Mothership," bouncy synths in "Labyrinth," to the heinously dirty dubstep wobble in "Arguing With Thermometers." The band has progressively embraced their electronic side with each additional release, culminating on A Flash Flood of Colour, which features four or five songs with significant electro-dubstep influences.

Vocalist Rou Reynolds, who has an amusing ability to maintain his British accent while singing, displays impressive vocal range, effortlessly segueing through spoken word, melodic croon, and guttural bark, sometimes all within one song. Reynolds' lyrics are highly political and activistic, typically deriding modern society's obsession with consumption and monetary gluttony at the expense of the environment and relationships. I could do without the overtly idealistic banter, but the band typically makes up for it with some killer instrumentation, such as in "Gandhi Mate, Gandhi." Like Reynolds' vocals, Enter Shikari's song structures are highly variable, with some displaying a typical verse-chorus-verse-chorus arrangement while others are the auditory transformation of a Jackson Pollack painting.

Fresh. That's the word that will continually come to mind when listening to Enter Shikari, particularly on their new record. No two songs sound the same, nor do they sound like songs from any other band. Fans of driving rock and electronic music, particularly those with an open mind, will likely dig the eclectic brand of dub-pop-core that Enter Shikari offers.


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