When looking at the name of a genre, there are few terms that should ring alarm bells. Beware the use of the terms “post”, “neo” and the suffix “-core”. That being said, let’s look at the “Electronicore” album Common Dreads.
Like quite a lot of albums this week, Common Dreads opens with an introduction track. A sort of scene setting with mid synths, immediately joined by an ominous deep bass. The bass stays as all other musical ideas leave, a message is delivered from a Christopher Lee-esque voice. The picture is painted. The messages, called from multiple voices in multiple language ends and we get a shouted message “this is madness” — “we must unite” giving the theme and… first real track Solidarity, holy hell I’m in a rave.
I read an opinion defining the genre as a fusion of trance and screamo metal, which is like trying to decide how to join lace and steel, you can rivet or you can sew, but you’re going to have a bit of a time making the join, also you’re going to be under the scrutiny of the metal workers and the textile artists, neither of which is going to love what you’ve done.
There is a real mix of inspiration here, Havoc A and Havoc B are heavy metal with a dubstep backing. For your outright screaming, look at Zzzonked and Antwerpen. I forget which track they use the kitchen sink on. Solidarity has the sound of someone playing empassioned metal over an Ibiza rave; honestly they sound like Coldplay on meth here. The Jester after its big intense first half adopts and electronic jazzy rhythm (of course joined by heavy, heavy electric guitars), before dissolving into a jazz outro. Hectic of course is a metal rap track.
I don’t think at any point Enter Shikari take something out of the music. It’s add, add, add – more, more more – and that doesn’t mean there aren’t moments of quiet, it just means continuous, new, more, extra. I feel like I have to catch my breath when listening to them and I’m not a stranger to either metal or fast electronic sounds. I’m guilty that at times when listening I just wanted to yell “stop”, maybe that’s a good thing! Soy sauce is good but you can’t eat spoonful after spoonful.
Lyrically, actually, Enter Shikari are pretty damn poignant from environmental:
The sun and the sea could power us
No-longer cower in oil lust
Chernobyl is still a stain
Of the dangers of this game
“Why is it so many companies built to serve us end up ruling us?
Our British empire built free-trade opportunistic oppression?”
The lyrics are actually really good all the way through but it’s a tough job getting at them.
Argh! I want to like this so much more than I do but this is a case where the whole is less than the sum of its parts. In answer to trying to fuse several genres together that I mentioned at the beginning, it’s not a complete misfire, there is definitely ability in its construction. Actually – there are so many great ideas and themes, great lyrics, theres a lot to offer but it’s so clumsy in execution.
Is this album for you?
It could be; I do recommend taking a listen for yourself if the review above has any point that might capture curiousity in any way. You may find things you like in there and for me, well, maybe I’ll partake, but I think in small doses.
- Writing: 7.5/10
- Performance: 7.5/10
- Style: 6/10
- Effort: A+
(hoping not to sound patronising with that)