Sound — 10
From the opening few seconds of the intro, you can tell "Common Dreads" is going to be a beast of an album. The opening synths are typical of Enter Shikari's electronic sound, and the use of spoken word promises something special from the get-go. The first proper track, "Solidarity" opens with trancey synths and classic post-hardcore style guitaring; It's Enter Shikari in their rawest, basest form, as we've come to expect from "Take to the Skies"; but sudden breaks and elements of Dubstep hit you like a metric tonne of bricks in the face - by about 1:30 into the track, it's evident that this is really going to be something special. To say the least, Enter Shikari deliver; massive tracks like "Wall", "The Jester", "Hectic", and "Fanfare for the Conscious Man" are the real meat and gravy of the album, but complemented by forays into the more technical side of electronica, like "Havoc A" and "Havoc B", show that the boys have certainly matured from the old Post-Hardcore + Trance formula. On the electronic side, you can tell they've been out and about in the UK scene recently; Elements from both dubstep and dark jungle can be found on numerous tracks throughout the album. Of course, they've matured on the rock side as well; if you've previously swept this band to the side as just another "-core" act, then you're in for a massive surprise; in fact, theres arguably very little "-core" left on this album at all; the occasional chugga-chugga guitars, gang vocals, shouting, screaming, and spoken word are all thats left. Sometimes bordering on prog, and incredibly original, this is an album that show theres more to this band than we'd have first thought. The Heaviest/Evillest track on the album is "Zzzonked"; it seems to alternate between a dark, junglist electronic sound and very heavy metalcore sections; even the aforementioned -core haters could find something to love about this album, in terms of sheer originality if not for stylistic drive. One final point I'd like to make; do not judge the album on the singles "Antwerpen" and "Juggernauts" - as much as they're incredibly good tunes, they're gimicky at best when compared to the massive tracks that fill this album.
Lyrics — 8
Ridiculous. Utterly Ridiculous. Spoken word sections commenting on how community has broken down, and we need to "Unite, Unite, Unite"; lyrics stolen from the previous album and placed over slightly modified motifs; constant altering between extreme optimism and extreme cynicism for society as a whole. Brilliant, really. There's far fewer "sing-along moments" on this album, and in terms of vocal styles, theres a hell of a lot of spoken word and shouting, but it works. If you approach the lyrics from an intellectual perspective, its easy to pick holes, but the message is there, and it's a strong one.
Overall Impression — 10
As an album, it's incredible. As mentioned before, theres a few key tracks that really make it so good, but the rest of the album bulking it out is far from "filler" - the songs that dont have you on the edge of your seat in excitement are filled with enough cheeky musical ideas and overall genious to keep a listener interested from start to finish. The boys have really matured, and their sound is incredibly unique now. In terms of overall musical style, the only thing I can say is that there are elements of post-rock, prog, post-punk, post-hardcore, dubstep, electronica, and the classic trance/techno mix. Whether you hated or loved "Take to the Skies", I implore you to check this album out - it's worth your time.