Album review: Enter Shikari – ‘Common Dreads’

Album review: Enter Shikari - 'Common Dreads'


Well, you can't say they're not thinking outside the box

Like the existence of antimatter and the Brooklyn Beckham autobiography, some things are just too weird to contemplate for very long. Enter Shikari forged their rep as the nation’s foremost purveyors of trance-assisted screamo after forming six years ago in St Albans, taking their commuter belt angst as far as London’s dear-departed Astoria at the end of 2006, where they became only the second unsigned band in the venue’s history to enjoy a headline slot.

Shunning the brazen overtures of sundry major labels, the outfit opted to release full-length debut ‘Take To The Skies’ on their own Ambush Reality imprint, reaching Number Four in the UK album charts and spawning one of the most successful self-released rock albums ever in the process.

So far, so good-for-them, you might think, but then there was the music – an unbelievably self-serious mix of post-hardcore, rave and nu-metal aggression that didn’t so much splice genres as load them into the CERN accelerator, set the controls to sub-atomic holocaust and stand back cackling.

‘Common Dreads’ is even more monstrous than that, ramping up the WTF-factor while crowbarring in a state-of-the-nation address that’d make Frank ‘El Niño stole my credit rating’ Carter blush. Scarcely 12 minutes in and the band’s in full-on System Of A Down Vs Paul Oakenfold mode on ‘Juggernauts’, frontman Rou Reynolds screaming “THOU SHALT NOT PASS!!” at guilty swathes of City bankers like Gandalf the Grey clutching a book of pseudo-Biblical putdowns.

In very basic terms, Enter Shikari have got better at what they do – with ‘Take To The Skies’ the dance element of the equation tended to evaporate whenever the band got their sludgy thing on, but ‘Common Dreads’ includes several moments that justify their fusion shtick.

‘Zzzonked’’s jackhammering metal gives way to some sly d’n’b licks, over which Roughton does a quasi-rap thing uncannily reminiscent of Mike Skinner. And ‘The Jester’ sounds like ‘Fit But You Know It’ with an arena-sized donk on it.

Funeral For A Friend might offer a more cleanly anthemic take on the screamo idiom, Bullet For My Valentine a more fist-punchingly trad pop-metal formula but, for those who like their sonic nuptials to continue long after their bits have gone numb, ‘Common Dreads’ offers an ugly sort of bliss.

And it was written in their bassist’s dad’s garden shed. Never has an outbuilding wrought such peculiar evil.

Alex Denney