Sound — 8
It seems like everytime I turn around another metalcore band is trying to enfuse electronic music into their sound. At first glance, Enter Shikari may seem like just another one of these bands, however once give the chance, it becomes apparent that they are one of the few - if not the only - to do it successfully. The bands first two releases, "Take To The Skies" (2007) and "Common Dreads" (2009), incorporated synths and samples combined with a solid hardcore punk-style rock sound. On "A Flash Flood Of Colour" the band goes further in each direction fusing electronic elements from genres such as dubstep and drum and bass, with the heavy riffs and screaming of metalcore. The result is one of the most interesting sounds I've heard in many years. While I'll discuss the vocal elements more in-depth later, I've always felt this band's musical style was very symbolic of their lyrical message, in that they reject the conventional method of making music, just as they reject the conventional wisdom and politics and world order. The only downfall their style creates is that at times the electronics overshadow the presence of the band itself, with the guitars at times becoming unnoticeable. One of the stand out tracks on the album in terms of sound is "Arguing With Thermometers", an attack on the world's oil industry that goes in just about every stylistic direction the band has ever ventured into. It starts with arguable the heaviest section on the album, immediately followed by a Michael Jackson-style funky chorus, that switches gears into a dubstep break. "Stalemate" begins with a classical guitar and vocalist Rou Reynolds voice before becoming an anthemic rock track, concluding in a delicate piano ending. The album's closer, "Constellations" is an epic 5-minute track that may be the softest and most melodic song the band has ever created ending the most inspirational, heartfelt notes of the album.
Lyrics — 9
The lyrics on this album speak out against the current state of the world, promoting the positive message that we can overcome the current downward spiral vocalist Rou Reynolds believe we find ourselves in. The opening track "System..." starts off with the lines "There was a house in a field on the side of a cliff / And the waves crashing below were just said to be a myth / So they ignored the warnings from the ships in the docks / Now the house on the cliff is the wreckage on the rocks", with the house representing our societal structure which was doomed to collapse from its very inception. After proclaiming that the present is "such an exciting time to be alive", the album blasts into "...Meltdown", a lyrical continuation of the introductory track which chants "It's not too late, it's not too late", setting the optimistic tone for the rest of the album. The track that truly displays the bands views is "Constellations" in which Reynolds must decide whether to board one of two trains with the respective destinations of Disaster and Sustainability. He also promotes an anti-religious stance as he tells the listener "I'm more confused than ever but I don't beg or pray / 'Cause the sparkling light from the morning sun / Is all we should need to feel one" While the message is obvious and frankly stated, it remains powerful as he emotionally proclaims that one day "We'll start a world so equal and free / Every inch of this Earth is yours / All the land and all the sea". Obviously not every listener wants to be beaten over the head with such extreme political statements, which becomes tired at times, as the album loses a personal feel and takes on more of a war-protest vibe, that may appeal to some listeners, such as myself. The lyrics work well to work toward the band's goal that is clearly stated in the track "Pack Of Thieves" with the warning "Don't be fooled into thinking that a small group of friends couldn't change the world".
Overall Impression — 9
After listening to the album countless times over, it has set the bar high for music in 2012. Every piece of this album is executed to the best of the band's ability, should make musicians everywhere at least a little bit jealous. Overall, the most impressive songs on the album are "Arguing With Thermometers", "Pack Of Thieves", and "Gandhi Mate, Gandhi". I would recommend buying this to anyone who likes heavier music, as well to those who are fans of electronic music as both are done very well on "AFFOC".