The St Albans band mix musical mayhem with in-your-face politics on their fourth album
Over the course of 12 years and three albums, Enter Shikari have spewed heavily politicised, in-your-face rhetoric over an uncompromising blend of post-hardcore, metal and trance. It’s served them well. The St Albans four-piece’s fiery invective and intense live shows inspire devotion from fans, and that has seen them rise from Hertfordshire’s DIY underground to the Top Five of the UK albums chart with 2012’s ‘A Flash Flood Of Colour’.
Fourth album ‘The Mindsweep’ – the title refers to “those in power withholding or discrediting new ideas” – sounds just as powerful as its predecessors. It’s dominated, as usual, by frontman Rou Reynolds’ distinctive vocals, forcefully ramming home his lyrics. The record is bookended by two particularly harsh showcases – ‘The Appeal And The Mindsweep I’ and ‘The Appeal And The Mindsweep II’ – which both see him explode into shouts of ”I am a mindsweeper / Focus on me!”. But he is flexible, and flits between styles. The records most rabble-rousing moment comes on ‘The Last Garrison’ when he spits ”Can you hear the war cry?” as unruly guitars clash with thudding beats. He’s at his most direct, though, on ‘Anaesthetist’, an impassioned tirade against the privatization of the NHS. “You will not profit off our health”, he screams, as the song booms to breakneck speed amidst a flurry of electronic effects.
Elsewhere though, Enter Shikari’s mix of politics and extreme sound makes their vitriol hard to follow. The pseudo-intellectual rap of ‘Never Let Go Of The Microscope’ – “Like Socrates I only graze on the slopes of the summit of my own ignorance” – feels more like parody than political activism. The dislocated rhythms of ‘There’s A Price On Your Head’ are more irritating than incendiary, the song’s fury lost in tired sounding nu-metal thrash. ‘Dear Future Historians…’ is unexpectedly fragile, but its tender melody sticks out as a bizarre and schmaltzy interlude amid the relentless pace and volume elsewhere.
It’s a shame that on ‘The Mindsweep’, Shikari’s message is occasionally lost among the madness. But they clearly believe music can inspire change, and this country needs bands like them to shake people out of their political apathy.
Director: Dan Weller
Record label: PIAS
Release date: 19 Jan, 2015