Enter Shikari - Common Dreads

Anybody who has read more than one or two of my reviews will know that I'm hugely sympathetic to any band that's prepared to stick their neck out and do something different. Enter Shikari forced me to challenge my pre-conceptions with their earlier releases when their blend of metal and hardcore dance beats blew my mind.

I am therefore pleased to see that rather than rest on their laurels, the band have once more pushed themselves and further refined their sound. To a casual listener it sounds almost like a concept album. Title track and opener "Common Dreads" starts with an almost Eno-esque wash of synthesisers before morphing into a spoken word call to arms. "We Must Unite" they cry. Unite against what you ask? Unite against Common Dreads - those aspects of modern life that bother so many of us - climate change, wars, the surveillance society and the lack of community. Yes - they've gone political and you know what? This doesn't sound like a lecture, this sounds like an observation, a plea to wake up and a call to arms.

Jeez. Where do I start? Words, like "epic", "sweeping", "angry", "reflective" all spring to mind. I want to say "new breed of prog rock" but then we come across a tune or two whose almost spoken delivery over a vague dance beat sounds not unlike The Streets.

Take " Juggernaut". Hardcore dance beats before the guitars kick in. "I think that we've still got time but I don't think that we're invincible" they sing and then a launch into a spoken word commentary on our addiction to consumerism over a pastoral backing before returning once more to a far more energetic approach complete with shouted gang vocals. "ZZonked" owes more to their hardcore dance influences with just a hint of the guitar and "The Jester" kicks off with a hugely jazz influenced flute and trumpet, gets a lot angrier and nosier when the guitars and keyboards kick in and the morphs into the kind of dance beat that'll get the more open minded members of a crowd bouncing like loons. Light stick anyone?

"No Sleep Tonight" is a monster. The keyboards are there as an almost subliminal niggle and the insistent chorus borders on radio friendly whilst the mid song breakdown hints at nightmares to come as the song heads to a more and more desperate finale.

Whether or not you agree to the messages and sentiment expressed throughout the CD is irrelevant. This is an album that you HAVE to hear. It's a great example of how to throw away the rule book, mix and match various styles and genres and against all the odds make the darned thing sound like a cohesive whole and not just a random mess. Enter Shikari are one of the most exciting innovative bands working today. Open your mind, leave you prejudices at the door and give this a listen. Stunning stuff.

by Phil T.

Visit the Enter Shikari Website