There’s little denying it: Enter Shikari is one of this generation’s most intentionally ambitious bands. The genre weaving UK quartet ardently refuses to settle on any singular style or influence. Guided by an astute global awareness reaching from the towering office buildings of major metropolitan areas to the war torn wastelands of the middle east, Enter Shikari tackles some of the most relevant topics to any citizens of our increasingly connected world. The band’s fourth full length, The Mindsweep, follows suit as an active manifesto, delivered with enough force and command to initiate meaningful dialogue about social change amongst listeners.
“This is an appeal, to the struggling and the striving, the stakeholders of this planet, this floating rock we call Earth, alas that means you,” pleads frontman Rou Reynolds, reinforcing the urgency in the line, “no time before… did we grasp the scope of this emergency.” Of course, the peril of which Reynolds speaks is waking up from political apathy – a theme running strong through Enter Shikari’s career works. Topics range from passionate denunciations of the clueless upper-middle class blindly adhering to the one percent’s privatization agenda (“Anaesthetist”), calls for the elimination of society permitted poverty, and an idealist’s future. Messages of hope inspire amidst images of rubble on “The One True Colour.” “Oh, how rich the soil, how wondrous the upheaval, it’s time to embark,” proclaims the band of the immense potential for rectifying society of its cancerous, self destructive state.
From a sonic viewpoint, Enter Shikari can best be described as a multi-genre blend of alt-punk, post-hardcore, metalcore, trance and various electronics harmonized collectively as an alt-rock mashup. While that might sound scattered, the band typically matches each strength within a context. For instance, “The Last Garrison” opens as if on a battlefield – the crunching grind of a cutting breakdown screaming alongside an adrenaline spiking warcry. “Welcome to the skirmish,” invites Reynolds, playing devil’s advocate as the clamour abruptly transforms into a wave of pulsing key-based synth. Meanwhile, the contrasting styles of pseudo hip-hop vocals meet angelic clarity of “Never Let Go Of The Microscope” harken back to the glory days of P.O.D. and Evanescence, but with a brutal twist of the the knife.
The only flaw that may spike reservations for some comes from the spastic, back-and-forth pacing that misdirects songs like “Myopia.” “I’m beginning to get glimpses of what is called real life, meaning misfortune,” Reynolds sings clean in epiphany, before diving into a verse dominated by harsh, aggressive hardcore accents and screeching, angular riffs. The enraged intent clearly mirrors the lyrical anger, but at the expense of Enter Shikari’s otherwise eloquent activism. “Price On Your Head” tips the scales into complete disarray with the two styles seemingly competing in unison, resulting in flashes of System Of A Down and Tool. Fans may find themselves on fence in such moments – confused whether to embrace or reject what quickly becomes the rawest front that Enter Shikari has ever embodied.
Four albums in and Enter Shikari shows no sign of letting up. The Mindsweep defines itself as the band’s most aggressive piece yet, bound together by Reynold’s erratic vocal range (ranging from the cleanest of clean to the most guttural of human expressions harkening back to their Common Dreads days). Armed with an ongoing critique of the systemic inequality plaguing our society, Enter Shikari finds a seemingly endless well of energy to fuel their political passions. It might not be an album geared for everyone (A Flash Flood Of Colour is a more accessible disc), but the content certainly applies to a universal audience. More bands should dream big to the aspiring heights of Enter Shikari.