Enter Shikari - The Zone

OK - confession time. Enter Shikari are one of those bands whose name I've seen everywhere but I can't honestly claim to have heard anything by them. I also have to confess that I had assumed that they were yet another floppy haired band that would be shouting their rage and anger over staccato guitar riffs.

Well, the first 5 seconds of opener "The Feast" put me straight on that one. With a keyboard riff sounding like it had been taken straight from a hardcore dance CD I thought for a moment that I'd loaded the wrong CD. Thankfully, the guitar riffs kicked in as did the much expected shouty vocals. However, the hardcore dance keyboards didn't disappear - they were there throughout the track.

They were still there on the next track and by the time third track "Keep It On Ice" turned up, the guitars had vanished along with the shouted vocals and instead here was a track that was a perfect chill out - clean vocals, twinkling keyboards and a nice subtle drum riff keeping it moving along and saving it from ambient blandness. With a title of "Adieu (Routron 5000 Remix)" and with what's gone before, you just know that you're in for some kind of dance number and sure enough you've got another keyboard driven euphoric dance mix that would not sound out of place on System 7's 1991 Debut CD. Top notch, grade A chilled dance music that even the most two left footed amongst us could groove along to.

After that it's back to the more up-tempo stuff - dance orientated keyboards, guitars crunching out the riffs and a good mix of clean vocals, the odd death grunt and liberal helpings of gang vocals that no doubt go down a storm live and keep the crowd firmly on their side. But, being Enter Shikari - it's not going to be that simple. Here come the slow bits, here are the gang vocals, here are the guitars riffs again and what's this now? A few sections that sound as if they'd fit quite nicely on a prog rock album?

For once, here's a band that to these elderly ears has lived up to its apparent hype. I absolutely LOVE this album and let's not forget that this is actually a mini-album of B-Sides and Rarities i.e. not material that was deemed worthy of an A-side or even to appear on the debut album. If you want something that's going to challenge any preconceptions that you may have and perhaps expose you to something new, I can't recommend this highly enough. A band this willing to push the envelope and yet still turn out something so damn satisfying deserves support - especially as this is self released. And just in case you think "easy to say - you've got a review copy", I put my money where my mouth is and went out and bought a copy of this in the shops AND a copy of their debut album. This has all the potential to make it into my top 5 CDs of the year and I doubt that anyone is more surprised at that than me!

by Phil T.

Visit the Enter Shikari Website