Common Dreads Review

artist: Enter Shikari date: 07/08/2009 category: compact discs
Enter Shikari: Common Dreads
Released: Jun 15, 2009
Genre: Post-Hardcore
Label: Ambush Reality, Tiny Evil
Number Of Tracks: 15
Common Dreads is Enter Shikari's second studio album. As an album, it's incredible. As mentioned before, theres a few key tracks that really make it so good.
 Sound: 9.3
 Lyrics: 8.3
 Overall Impression: 9
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reviews (3) 44 comments vote for this album:
overall: 9.3
Common Dreads Reviewed by: jeowy, on june 15, 2009
6 of 6 people found this review helpful

Sound: 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. // 10

Lyrics: 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. // 8

Overall Impression: 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. // 10

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overall: 7.7
Common Dreads Reviewed by: JBoy343, on july 08, 2009
1 of 2 people found this review helpful

Sound: Shikari are back! And this time they've got a message to put out. Having the songs written around a half a mile from me (Shikari are from my home town) I've followed this album as its progressed, and I have mixed feelings about its result. Clearly, what has been such a basis for Shikari's success was its cross-genre, hybrid mix of Club/Trance with Heavy Rock. Apart from a couple of tunes sadly, I feel this vibe has been a lost a little, as Shikari sell themselves out to the currently more popular form of Dubstep. However, the St. Albans Mob pull off this mix well. The album blasts straight into Solidarity, which for me, is the standout track of the album by far. The song has it all, trance riffs, heavy breakdowns, a dubstep pattern and a choir chorus to finish off the tune. The only thing that will frustrate a lot of fans, and this has been well documented, is that Shikari do not deny this to be a highly political album. Shikari are known for their energetic, fun and care-free live shows where they border on complete insanity, but this is an image lost for a more serious political message. This will inevitably lose them a lot of fans I feel. // 8

Lyrics: Again, politics take a huge forefront in the lyrical make-up of Shikari's new album (We Must Unite, The idea of community, will be something displayed in a museum). That being said, singing political lyrics over dubstep basslines is not something that's been done before, and in the relevant tracks they pull it off very well. Rou's voice will hardly inspire you to take up singing any time soon, but one of the big differences I've noticed on this album is the improvement of Bassist Chris Batten's vocals. Chris plays a huge role live vocally, and its only fair that he has a larger inclusion in this album. Listen out for Batten in Hectic and 2nd Single Juggernauts. // 8

Overall Impression: In such a difficult year for music, and such a difficult economic climate, I'm not entirely sure how well this risky piece of art will be received by fans. I respect Shikari for taking the risk but only time will tell successful it will become. Compared to albums of the last month, I would definitely prefer to listen to Taking Back Sunday's New Again or The Blackou's The Best in Town. Standout tracks have to be Common Dreads (Intro) / Solidarity, Hectic and Wall, as well as singles Juggernauts, Antwerpen and No Sleep Tonight. The rest of the tracks aren't really worth much of a listen I'm afraid. If the album were stolen I would not purchase it again. // 7

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overall: 9.7
Common Dreads Reviewed by: slinkybeaver, on july 07, 2009
0 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: This album has been playing in a constant loop in my car since it came out and is not likely to stop anytime soon. It starts with the frightfully eerie title track that introduces us to a slightly darker Shikari. We are then thrown into 'Solidarity' which brings a more familiar trance sound with a sweet guitar riff underneath it. 'Step Up' does a similar thing and may lead one to believe that this album is actually going to be quite heavy, it isn't. From there on it tones down on the guitar riffs and the techno takes over, this is the new Shikari taking form. The synth has matured to a level where the guitars are almost unnecessary, merely backing up on this well developed programmed music. This is a good thing, it still sounds like them but a very progressed and improved version. The songs are well composed, well mixed and in general more developed than on TTTS. Prepare to hear 'No Sleep Tonight' on the radio, it is possibly my least favourite A) because it is for some reason really, really poppy and B) it has an oddly placed breakdown that doesn't fit the song at all. // 10

Lyrics: The lyrics are a point of interest for many who wish to criticise this album. Whilst they are very good they are different from TTTS and bring with it the signs of a changing Enter Shikari. No more songs about aliens and sci-fi, this is a propaganda project for the Brits. Every song centers around either Bush, Blair, the economy, global warming or the war on terror. This bothered me at first and I can understand how it can put people off, it is no longer the 'fun' Enter Shikari. The lyrics can be a downer if you want them to be but if you can look past this small annoyance you can see the good in them and enjoy the music for what it is. However songs like 'The Jester' can be quite hilarious to listen to. // 9

Overall Impression: I love all the songs on this album but favourites are: 'Solidarity', 'Step Up', 'Wall', 'Zzzonked' and 'Hectic. If you LOOOOVVVEED TTTS then you, I think will love this too. There is more techno, and more spoken word, but less heavy-ness and less screaming. And still we will be here standing like statues. // 10

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