Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Review: "This Means War" - Attack Attack!

Band: Attack Attack!
Album: This Means War
Release: January 17th, 2012 via Rise Records.

Being a 23 year old male, it's a little embarrassing to be caught listening to an Attack Attack! record. I have followed this band closely over the years and heard all of their albums extensively but I have never been a devoted fan. Something in the back of my head was telling me that This Means War was going to change all that. Between the hype of it being "djent" and featuring a new style of vocals from front-man Caleb Shomo, this record had plenty of potential to grab the attention of new fans and a more 'mature' audience. Well, they fucked up.

Let's start with the sound/production of this album. Originally it was set to be produced by John Feldmann of Goldfinger who has produced bands like The Used and A Day To Remember but that all fell through. Instead of getting the infamous Joey Sturgis to do their third album like the previous two, they chose to go with their vocalist Caleb Shomo to do all the producing and mixing. Caleb is also only 19 years old and has only produced a few small time bands in the past year or so. He didn't do an awful job on the mixing but it could be better and sounds like some of the heavier parts were rushed through (especially the guiatars) and don't fit into the mix properly. The drums sound decent but the drummer is boring as fuck and never once did I think, "Hey, that was a cool drum bit." Now the vocals... Caleb has completely changed his screaming style since the self-titled album. It's much more of a shrill high pitched scream (similiar to original singer Austin Carlyle) and he hardly ever uses low "gutteral" screams like on the self titled album. This new style of screaming may sound more 'emotional' and raw in spots it eventually starts to sound like the same scream over and over and over. He barely ever hits any low notes and it's like the same flat-line screaming from beginning to end. According to and interview with the drummer this was to make it easier on his vocal chords so he could do the live singing. Generally every chorus on this album is sung. Caleb's singing voice is alright but doesn't fit the music (and I know he can't sing live if his life depended on it, watch any YouTube video). A lot of it sounds like pop-rock with all the whoa whoa whoas and oh oh ohs that he throws in. I feel like it's black soul music over top of a 7 string guitar sung by a white kid with tattoo sleeve. If you're going to do an album like this you can't have all these little Kings of Leon/Coldplay esq chorus's stuck into the middle of every song.

Onto the song structure and overall feel of the album. Every song on this album has the exact same song structure and feel behind it. Attack Attack have completely ditched any of the "randomness" behind their music and gone with the intro/verse/chorus/verse/chorus/breakdown/chorus form (ABCBCDC). Also on a side note, go listen to Coldplay's "Clocks" and then go listen to "The Wretched". Same tune. There are zero techno bits and the only keyboard parts are electronic piano for the most part. I mean there are some parts I do like and some bits are extremely catchy but I can totally get sucked into garbage music for a few listens (I mean I did listen to Korn's The Path of Totallity a few times). In a lot of ways the album starts out strong and heavy and I was like awwww yeah! this is going to be alright! But then after a few listens I feel like I've just heard the same song over and over. "I've been yelling so much that my throat is bleeding" screams Shomo... then you're probably not doing it right bro. Another lyric "I don't care what you say or where you hide. I will find you and make you realize that you made a BIG MISTAKE". LOL! Drew York (SFTP) is at home listening to line that with a huge shit eating grin on his face. Apparently this is a concept album too. I have no idea about what. War I guess. How Stray From the Path hurt their feelings? I dunno. The video for "The Wretched" was garbage too.

Verdict: Attack Attack! should have stuck with more of their self-titled sound, it's really a better fit. However, I do appreciate the idea of trying something new and moving forward with your sound. But this is not what Attack Attack! should be. If you hear a 15 year old kid at the mall say "Have you heard the new Attack Attack! record? It's djent as fuck!" make sure you cut off his tongue or at least kick him so hard in the nuts that he can't have kids. Because this is not a djent record. It's just an Attack Attack! record with low tuned guitars. There is no complex time signatures, key signature changes, or any really original grooves. This is just an Attack Attack! record that was rushed into completion with a group of young and inexperienced dudes. Attack Attack! used to be all fun with the techno and the pink and purple, now they've taken on a serious demeanor and sound that just doesn't mesh. This is a record for someone in high-school that wants to get into heavy music for the first time.

4 out of 10 stage-dives.

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