Enter Shikari are a band from St. Albans, UK, and they have a strange combination of genres, which some people may like, but obviously there are haters as with every band. Some of their music is rock, some hardcore, and some electronica, but most songs are all of these blended into one, which is an interesting combination that I think works well, and why I am a fan of Enter Shikari. Enter Shikari are:
Roughton "Rou" Reynolds - Vocalist, Electronics
Liam "Rory" Clewlow - Guitar, Backing vocalist
Chris Batten - Bass, Vocals
Rob Rolfe - Drums, Percussion
They have released four albums, Take To The Skies and The Zone in 2007, this in 2009, and most recently Tribalism released in 2010. 9 singles have been released, most recently Thumper (which is a song definitely worth listening too). They have also released 4 EP's, one of which was released under their former band name of 'Hybryd' and 2 live albums (because they have won a Kerrang! award for being the best live band in 2007 and were nominated for the same award in 2009). Enter Shikari have been nominated for many awards, and won most of them too, so have become quite successful since their formation in 2003. This is the second album from Enter Shikari, and is a great album, as you will see below:
1. Common Dreads
A strange intro track. If this was for any other band, I wouldn't like it, but this is a weird album so it's more suitable. It's made entirely by synthesizers and weird talking. It ends with Rou shouting, and blends into the next song
A very cool synthesizer intro, joined by metal guitars and drums, which suit the synthesizers very well. A very upbeat song, and one of my favourite on the album. It's different to most hardcore music, because of the use of synths. The vocals are different to most hardcore too, with a mix of screamo and almost cockney singing, which is a good thing, because I think the vocals are great, as well as everything else about this song. It's a strange song, but I think this is a good thing, although some people might not like it, so it's up to you.
3. Step Up
Another synthesizer intro, but not quite as upbeat this time, although it gets more upbeat when the drums and guitar come in. Another good intro, joined by great vocals going in and out of screamo again. I like how the instruments go out, and the band members chant, almost like a football crowd. After this, it goes into a strange bit of synthesizers, with guitars similar to Linkin Park, which is a good thing because they're a great band. Another good song, although not quite as catchy as the last one
Possibly my favourite song on the album (tied with The Jester). The synthesizers at the beginning are upbeat and catchy like Solidarity, except this song is interesting all the way through. A very catchy song, with strange but brilliant lyrics, the same as they are in most songs. The vocals in this song are once again brilliant, and in this one, there's good backing vocals too. The only bad thing about this song is that the breakdown may be a little too song, but when it goes back into the song, it's great again. A brilliant song that ends with a nice bit of acoustic too.
A dramatic synthesizer intro, that gets louder and louder, til the drums and vocals come in. I like this intro. It's different to the other songs. The vocals are great, and the drumming very clever, and the synthesizers good too. I love the build up, and it's not as upbeat, but still very catchy. This is what makes this song so good, it's different, but still amazing. The drums then come in, and the synthesizers pick up. The guitars come in after that, and play an awesome catchy riff along to screamo and vocals, and this means that this is another of my favourites. I love the guitar riff in this.
A very quiet talking intro, with a bit of random conversation saying something about 'it's past it's sell by date', which is quite funny. It then goes straight into another great song, with screamo, drums, guitar and synths right from the start. The best thing about this song is the upbeat drumming, screamo, and the catchy synthesizers too. At about 2.20 the song goes into what is almost drum & bass, with amazing synthesizers and very clever drumming. Another unusual but awesome song.
7. Havoc A
This song is meant as a sort of interval track, so because of that, there isn't much to say about it. It's still a very cool song with catchy synthesizers again, and good drumming too. The vocals are closer to speech than singing, but still good. A bit of a random but cool track.
8. No Sleep Tonight
Another different type of intro, keeping the album varied, but still very catchy. More of a straight rock intro, with quieter synthesizers, and more guitar and drums than the other tracks. At about 45 seconds, the vocals pick up, and there are nice guitars, clever drumming, and background synthesizers and vocals, all of which help to make this song as catchy as it is. It's not my favourite but I really like it. The guitar is great.
9. Gap In The Fence
A much more laid back song, with no synthesizers, and a different guitar sound which is much more chilled than the other guitar used in the album. This doesn't mean it's bad though, I like this song, and the lead vocals and backing vocals harmonise very well together. The guitar and the vocals sound great together, and all of these things help to make this song how good it is. After 2 and a half minutes, the synthesizers come in and the vocals pick up, which is great too.
10. Havoc B
Another interval track, which is just synthesizers and drums and vocals. The vocals are strange and distorted, but the synthesizers and sound effects are cool. After a minutes 50, the guitars come in, making a pretty heavy, hardcore song, and it's only meant to be an interval.
Another heavy start, which is more hardcore than most of the songs. For quite a lot of the song there aren't any synthesizers at all, which I think is good because it means they don't become overused. I like pretty much everything about this song, the vocals, the backing vocals, guitar, drums, and the few synthesizers that there are. A very upbeat rock song, and another of my favourites. A very good, straight rock song.
This is another of my favourites, not really because it's good, but because it's strange. It's probably the most unusual song on the album, and I like this. Some people won't like this song, but I think it's very cool, and funny too. It starts off with old-fashioned music over what sounds like an angry mob. An announcement then comes over telling the crowd to "simmer down" followed by the vocals, which are more speaking than singing. The vocals are very odd, and are about ordering a steak, which I find quite funny. It then goes into the main bit of the song, with some rock music. After this, it stops and goes into the normal electronica Enter Shikari music, with a really cool bit of synthesizers. The synths are very catchy, and the song then calms down and goes back into the old fashioned music at the beginning, with Rou shouting "oh! That was great!" and talking about how he enjoyed the meal, another bit of funny speech, summarising a weird and wonderful song.
This song is only 40 seconds long, so there isn't much to say about it. It's only strange sound effects, and is a break song
Another song where everything comes in right at the beginning, including screamo. It's a good penultimate song, and I like how it cuts out and goes quiet after the loud intro, then the synthesizers build up, and all the instruments come in gradually. This is a very catchy song, and is structured differently to most of the songs on the album, which makes the album varied, and why I can give it 5 stars. I like the guitar in this song, as well as the synths, vocals, drums and lyrics. A great song once again.
15. Fanfare For The Conscious Man
As the title suggests, this song starts with a fanfare on trumpets, then the vocals come in, but are more talking again. I like this ending song, it's another weird and wonderful song. There are guitars, and screamo and drums etc., but I like how there is a fanfare all the way through the song. Another strange but cool song, and a good one to end on, summarising a great album.
Enter Shikari: Common Dreads
1. "Common Dreads" 2:08
2. "Solidarity" 3:16
3. "Step Up" 4:40
4. "Juggernauts" 4:44
5. "Wall" 4:29
6. "Zzzonked" 3:27
7. "Havoc A" 1:40
8. "No Sleep Tonight" 4:16
9. "Gap In The Fence" 4:07
10. "Havoc B" 2:52
11. "Antwerpen" 3:15
12. "The Jester" 3:55
13. "Halcyon" 0:42
14. "Hectic" 3:17
15. "Fanfare for the Conscious Man" 3:45
A definite progression from their first album, Enter Shikari have certainly expanded their tone of song since Take to the Skies. A darker, more politically influenced tone is present through almost all of the songs in the Common Dreads album.
Common Dreads is an entire song of spoken word, political lyrics. Building in tension in preperation for the rest of the album. This builds to an climax, and subsequent anti-climax at the end of the song, and leads directly into.
Solidarity begins with a typical synth opening, and builds tension throughout the first verse and chorus, before descending into a break/beatdown, "And now the Floodgates will open" The song continues in high-tempo, typical Shikari until nearly the end, where "And still we will be here, standing like statues (a hark back to TTTS) introduces a choir like ending.
Step-Up begins with a quick tempo synth intro, and smashes straight through to a exciting first verse. This upbeat tempo is maintained through the song, with a constant drumbeat. Broken with occasional synth and spoken word breakdowns, this song is one of my favourites from the album.
Juggernauts is treated with another high tempo introduction, but again dips into spoken word in the verses. A favourite of many new Shikari fans, it is probably one of the most played on the album. Not a personal favourite of mine (but good remixes are available should you look for them)
Wall is an interesting song, with a very slow intro and first verse, listeners are lulled into a false sense of security. Gradually, the pace increases, you can hear the tempo of the drums ever increasing, until the breakdown at the end of the chorus. Then, typical Shikari breaks through, and listeners are treated to some good old Shikari synth.
Zzonked is a powerful song, right from the off. Occasionally breaking into lighter verses, this song remains very high tempo, and is a personal favourite from the album.
Havoc A are examples of Shikari's experimentation with dubstep in their new album. This song has grown on me a lot, but you can never really forget, they are just kind of filling the gaps between songs. Not a personal favourite, but many friends love them.
No Sleep Tonight is a very interesting song, building up from a slow introduction, it reaches a climax at the end of the first verse. However, the breakdown at this point is a tad disappointing, without any of the usual Rou outbursts.
Gap In the Fence starts with a light, acoustic introduction, and continues like this until the middle of the song. Where it changes to an synth enhanced melody with fairly quick tempo, and more passionate vocals from Rou. Another personal favourite of mine, so different, yet very good.
Antwerpen is my least favourite song from this album. Alot of mediocre screaming from Rou at the beginning, however, the instrumentals are still very, very strong.
The Jester is another superb song, spoken word for the first minute or so, before going straight into a synthy breakdown and more screams from Rou. An awesome song, full of energy and passion.
Halycon is basically another interlude song. No vocals, but the effects are still bareable to listen to.
Hectic is another brilliant song, high tempo from start to finish, this song is brimming with energy and typical Shikari flair, a perfect mix of synth, guitar, percussion and vocals.
Fanfare for the Concious Man is a song I seldom listen to (being the last song on the album), however Rou's lyrical introduction is a powerful opening, and this energy is transferred right through the song, in all of it's political controversy.
In my opinion, a brilliant album, but I can't help feeling it's a bit of a let down from "classic" Shikari
1. "Common Dreads" -2:08
2. "Solidarity" - 3:16
3. "Step Up" - 4:40
4. "Juggernauts" - 4:44
5. "Wall" - 4:29
6. "Zzzonked" - 3:27
7. "Havoc A" - 1:40
8. "No Sleep Tonight" - 4:16
9. "Gap In The Fence" - 4:07
10. "Havoc B" - 2:52
11. "Antwerpen" - 3:15
12. "The Jester" - 3:55
13. "Halcyon" - 0:42
14. "Hectic" - 3:17
15. "Fanfare for the Conscious Man" - 3:45
'Common Dreads' is the follow-on from Enter Shikari's first masterpiece 'Take To The Skies' and has changed, and improved, on many features. The biggest difference people will notice, and like it or not, is the fact that the screaming that became standard with Enter Shikari songs in 'Take To The Skies' has been toned down a huge amount in the new album and in my opinion it's for the best - it is indeed a lyrical masterpiece.
'Common Dreads' often seems like more of a political outcry than an album at times, however this hinders not the quality of the album as it is still, in one way or another, the same old Shikari we know and love. When single 'Antwerpen' was first released I knew from that moment that the rest of the album would be absolutely incredible. I browsed the internet for hours looking at recent live shows to try and find some more new songs and this is where I stumbled across the BRILLIANT songs 'Hectic' and 'Solidarity'.
The first two songs, 'Common Dreads' and 'Solidarity', go very well together (if you listen to 'Solidarity' straight after 'Common Dreads') and is possibly the most energetic and empowering introduction to an album I have ever heard (on par with Slipknot's '.Execute.' -> 'Gematria') as both just make you want to move and 'Common Dreads' also sets the political tone for the album as a spoken word song with the words "We Must Unite" in many different languages, along with other things like "We are clinging onto manufactured crippling constraints" - an incredibly powerful song to sum it up. 'Common Dreads' just gets you so psychologically prepared for the fast paced intro to follow with "Here to unite, through common dreads!" and then 'Solidarity' throws you straight into the pumping up of the rest of the song, with their signature (to this album) synthy breakdown. 'Solidarity' also takes the lyrics "And still we will be here, standing like statues" out of the song 'Enter Shikari' off 'Take To The Skies' and I think this works really well as it, in a way, ties in with the old album and the fans can identify it this way.
'Step Up' - "We have greatness within us" followed by a 'synthy breakdown' - the best part about this song. This song is not one of my favourites because it doesn't have the same impact as many other songs on the album do - as it shows none of the intensity as powerfully, but it's still a good song nevertheless - not one I would rate highly or recommend as a favourite though.
'Juggernauts' is the second single that came off 'Common Dreads' and it is easy to see why. It is very similar to the rest of the album and pretty much sums it up. Spoken word, synthy intro, political lyrics, a chorus you want to sing along to and the same intensity we expect from Shikari.
'Wall' is, lyrically, one of the strangest songs I have ever heard. It is completely different to the rest of the songs on the album as the lyrics are clearly odd from the first few lines. "I'm gonna paste you up, cover you in wallpaper, screw shelves into you and call you a wall" so as you can tell it is by far the most metaphorical song on the album; and somehow it works incredibly well. The band originally created the track just as a dubstep song but the lyrics were then added in and it became even more perfect.
'Zzzonked' is the song on 'Common Dreads' which is probably most similar to the songs off 'Take To The Skies' but at the same time keeping the same very 'synth-filled' and political tendencies of the new album. However, the reason why it is more like 'Take To The Skies' is because it is as 'intense' and 'hardcore' as some of the songs on 'Take To The Skies' by having far more screaming than shouting as opposed to the rest of the album and just generally sounding like it could be on a better produced 'Take To The Skies'.
Havoc A and Havoc B are both intended just to be 'fillers' or interludes for the album and I think this works well for Havoc A, but I think Havoc B starts to sound too much like an actual song on the album - which is okay but not ideal.
The album has two other songs that are distinctly different to the rest the album; these are 'No Sleep Tonight' and 'Gap In The Fence. Both songs bring to the album what 'Adieu' brought to 'Take To The Skies' - just a break from all the intensity that the rest of the album is (although No Sleep Tonight is very powerful). New single 'No Sleep Tonight' is my preferred out of the two although I do really like 'Gap In The Fence' because both are simply a very good change. 'No Sleep Tonight' is about the disgusting actions of 'big businesses' and the amazement of how they sleep at night knowing how they are damaging the world, with the chorus of "You're not getting any sleep tonight!" and the new video they have produced for it which is very good and shows exactly what the song is supposed to mean - both songs give your ears a break from the 'musical pleasure' and slow things down a bit - in one word, brilliant!
'Antwerpen' is the first single released off 'Common Dreads' and set the bar very high for the rest of the album for fans like me. However views from people became very mixed about how the rest of the album would turn out because some thought that Shikari had lost what made them special, although I think this is one of the more similar songs to everything off 'Take To The Skies'. I think they released this first because it is quite unlike the rest of the songs on 'Common Dreads' as it is less politically 'in your face' and is just generally a FUN song!
'The Jester' is easily not my favourite song off the album, or even in the top 5, but around 2:00 minutes in the song the guitars just stop, and a electronic beat builds up, slowly followed by drums and guitars and I absolutely LOVE this - a long awaited musical explosion after the pumping, psyching up of the build up. I cannot wait to see that song live cause it's just so 'cool' and just makes you want to jump around and have a good time. Aside from the middle-end of the song, the start is very strange like 'Wall' - and I think with 'The Jester' it doesn't work AS well so damages my overall opinion of the song.
'Hectic' is not my absolute favourite song on the album, but pretty much everyone I have spoken to about this album will say it's their best; and I really can't blame them. It makes you want to sing and dance and just sounds beautiful - simple as. This was clearly made to just be very fun and I really cannot fault this song at all, it is perfect in every single way.
The song which is possibly the most obviously political song (in the world) is 'Fanfare For The Conscious Man'. Here is one of the lyrics:
"Our gracious queen should grasp her crown, and take a good f*cking swing at Blair and Brown, for leading the country into a legal warfare.."
As well as having very hard-hitting lyrics the song is very good and is a brilliant ending to a brilliant album.
Although it probably sounds ridiculous to some, I think Enter Shikari have been influenced by or at least sound like Pendulum on this album because some of Shikari's new songs have the same effect on me now (they make me want to move and both are similar if you really think about it; with the whole dnb beats and similar vocals in some songs), so they are the only band I can say fans of them will like this album. Also, I think 'The King Blues' have influenced them, not with the type of music, but with the political side of it because they met at the Give It A Name tour, and The King Blues are VERY political, so I think It seems too much of a coincidence that this album gives off the same political messages as The King Blues fight for after meeting with them.
As you can probably tell I have very little to say negatively about this album but should i?
Overall Rating - 9.5/10 - LOVE IT!
Common Dreads THEN Solidarity
No Sleep Tonight
For fans of:
Attack Attack! (The US one)
Sky Eats Airplane
Dividing The Line
CATCH THEM ON THEIR OCTOBER UK TOUR WITH THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA!
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Common Dreads
3 Step Up
7 Havoc A
8 No Sleep Tonight
9 Gap In The Fence
10 Havoc B
12 The Jester
13 Halcyon (intro)
15 Fanfare for the Conscious Man