Sound — 6
01. Rebirth: a gradual fade in complete with drum beat which is then accompanied by a distorted guitar line and almost Egyptian sounding synth line. We then have choir like vocals enter as well as some wind instruments as well. Everything swells brilliantly yet to me sounds like quite a clich way of starting the album off. It certainly shows a different direction for the band in my opinion and seems to set quite a serious tone for the following songs. This all transfers into a cool sounding synth line and robotic sounding vocals before breaking into another bass and guitar line over the drum beat. This sounds more in line with the traditional Hadouken! sound as James' vocals take their place on the track but as said before, the overall seriousness of the track remains present which is something I find constant on various tracks throughout the album. The rest of the track is then comprised of the bass and guitar line, drum beat and some remixed plays of the choir vocals and wind instruments which sounds good but repetition soon settles on but this problem is short lived before the track ends. I didn't really get a huge impression from this song but still we move on 5/10 02. Turn The Lights Out: a slightly muffled bass line is the introduction to this track before some extra synths are added and a sweet sounding voice speaks the words turn the lights out' before the song kicks off with some awesome gang vocals and James' vocals entering the spotlight once again. They sound pretty kick ass and sound really threatening at points which I'm sure was the intention of the track but it's not quite like the tongue-in-cheek attitude I feel the band's previous album was approached with. I feel this sense of threat is much more serious. Either way, James' vocals flow well through the song and certain sections just sound awesome. This track is definitely better than the previous track. The I don't care where we are' section is a really nice touch to the song and reminds me more of their old sound. There is a section towards the end of the song which definitely builds up a large amount of tension with an array of string instruments and James' repeating the phrase this is your last chance' which definitely emphasises the sense of seriousness that I previously mentioned. As much as I like the section, it still seems like a change in direction for the band. I personally liked the playful yet aggressive feel that the previous album had and felt it set Hadouken! apart from other bands. After the previously mentioned section we head back into some brilliant vocals again and the I don't care...' section one last time but with some extra albeit slightly dodgy vocals which are a little uneasy. This all culminates into the repetition of the phrase turn the lights out' before the song fizzles out. Lovely 7/10 03. M.A.D: this is definitely my favourite song on the album. The awesome and bouncy synth line that starts the song off just sounds great to me before James delivers the brilliantly catchy line we drop beats that'll crack your cranium' and the song kicks off. The vocals as with the previous song sound really threatening again and this is the feeling that I think the song carries overall. This is until we hit a more calming interlude and James' vocals follow this and become a lot calmer also. It really has a thought provoking sound to it but to be honest, it just once again emphasises on this change in direction I feel that Hadouken! have followed. After this section though, the breakdown section is simply amazing in my opinion, the extra synth part that sounds as if it's almost spinning out of control contributes to the song so well and everything just sounds crazy as hell yet still so good. This is definitely my favourite track on the album thus far, really gets me going. The violent sound actually seems really fitting here 8/10 04. Evil: absolutely hate this starting bass line. The first time I actually listened to this track I had to pause it after the first minute or so because I was getting a migraine. The combination of the pounding drums and heavily distorted snyth lines may appeal to those in dance clubs but to me they're just head ache inducing. When the vocals are added to this mix, it doesn't really do much besides just layer more migraine worthy material. The extra synth and vocal parts follow this and just create a confusing mix of sound that really just doesn't appeal to me. These then break down into a simple bass line with some poorer sounding vocals from James which is a nice little break before re-entering the horrible mess that is the rest of the song. This continues for about a minute more with some dodgy guitar playing which then actually gives way into some good sounding gang vocals and the song actually kicks back into something half decent for the last minute, discarding the abysmal bass line. Unfortunately, we're still left with some of James' weaker vocals but at least the song picked up towards the end. Such a shame the rest of the song hadn't followed the style of the last minute. This track was definitely a letdown because of the first section 3/10 05. House Is Falling: the beat to this song is similar to the previous song but not to a degree of head pains before we are greeted with some slightly fuzzy guitar chords and some gradual synth parts and James' vocals and a nicely complimenting drum beat. The sound from this song isn't so much serious as the other songs on the album but it is still far from the original sound I've mentioned before. I'm not completely sure how to describe it but it definitely shows a contrast with their previous material. The lyrical content of the song isn't too diverse and musically the song is partially bare in places compared to other tracks. Either way, the track flows quite nicely but the repetition encountered with the vocals wears on quite quickly and drags the song down a bit. Regardless of the fact that it's the title of the track being repeated, I really hoped for some different lyrics used instead of repeating the same lines over and over again. The song ends with some choir singing once again which shows a reoccurring theme throughout the album bringing things back to seriousness 6/10 06. Mic Check: entering with a synth and drum line fading in and out with a constant female vocal of yo' and mic check', things are setting themselves up well before James' vocals enter using auto tune. Unfortunately, I'm not a big fan of it myself and this didn't really do much for me as a way of reintroducing his vocals although it does remind me of Aphex Twin's Come to Daddy. Other than that, we've got some well flowing vocals again. I partially think the lyrical content is closer to that of the first album but I still feel the difference in sound is there. Other than that, this song is pretty good but still nothing that blows me away. I can't completely understand the band's decision to release this song as a single as I feel it doesn't quite live up to either the energy or mood set by M.A.D or Turn the Lights Out. The song follows in line with the rest of the material on the album and has some good vocal lines but it follows the same sort of formula of powerful verses before a cleaner interlude before building up back into the verse and ending abruptly after some more frantic vocals and music - 7/10 07. Ugly: I quite like the intro to this song minus the strange little oo oo' sound but moving on. When the song kicks off, everything fits together nicely although the bass line sounds a bit dragging and could be flow better. James' vocals definitely show a violent side here with the very obvious line I'm gonna f*ck your face up' but something about this just seems like a joke to me. Just the explicitly of it is laughable for some reason. This laugh factor remains constant through the chorus. The use of the line it's ugly as your sister' just makes me put my head in my hands and wonder what made the band include a line this terrible. It's almost as if the band has tried to gain back that sound they'd achieved on their previous album and merely parodied it badly. Other than the weakest lyrics I've seen the band provide, the musical side is pretty strong especially the synth line played with around 45 seconds to go before the final chorus kicks and we finally end this laughable song. Not impressed at all by the lyrics but the song still sounds pretty good if you ignore them 4/10 08. Bombshock: some great drums over a simplistic bass line and some siren style noises set this song really well although James' lyrics are a little unclear whilst saying Bombshock. The first time I listened to the track, I had to actually re-check the lyrics because I thought he was repeatedly shouting ball sack'. Either way, the song is pretty aggressive, in key with the rest of the album. It also follows the pattern of energetic chorus into calming interlude which actually sounds great with the clean guitar tone. Surprisingly, the interlude builds up relatively quickly and kicks back into the verse and chorus sections pretty well. The only musical hiccup for me is the slightly strange sounding screeching sound that is heard frequently throughout the song which just seems a little out of place. Unfortunately, the song is pretty subjective to the same case of repetition that plagues many of the other tracks but still delivers a reasonably good song 6/10 09. Play The Night: I find this song starts off quite similarly to Turn the Lights Out but the difference is soon apparent with a nice sounding yet simplistic guitar line. The tone of the song is quite similar to Rebirth, very dramatic and quite dark before some palm muted chords and some tapping away on the hi-hat before this song breaks into the main section which actually sounds quite upsetting in ways which is unusual but don't let that fool you. The track is still packed with energy despite a slightly more depressing sound in places. Although to be honest, hearing this sort of tune from what originally appealed to me as a youthful and pro-active band just seems unfitting. Some clean emotional vocals accompanying James' traditional frantic lines shows off a nice contrast yet emphasises the difference in their sound. The last minute really appeals to me though with a great synth line accompanying the rest of the song. As with the rest of the song, it sounds slightly depressing in ways but it also gives me the sense of something ending which is fitting considering the next song is the last. Vocals are forgettable here but the musical side still makes for a track that is worth a listen 5/10 10. Lost: the last track on the album and to be honest, it sounds a little lost itself at first before finding its place within some cool sounding synth and bass parts. James' vocals accompanied by some fort of modification or auto tune come in with some emotion provoking lyrics and an unusually emotional chorus for Hadouken! which actually sounds really sweet. It's strange this, that the final two songs carry certain depressive qualities about them. Although this song does bring our attention back to a really awesome sounding distorted snyth line about 2 minutes in which shows us the band has a little more energy left before we head back into the crooning chorus once more which follows the same attempt at epic-ness as tracks such as Rebirth. I really think this track was a strange way of ending the album but either way, things sounded really nice here. I'm not really sure what to say of the whole album. It's a bit of a mixed bag with some little gems like M.A.D and some not so precious songs like Ugly or Evil. Funny that these two songs actually possess names that conjure negative connotations anyway. Either way, for a fan of their previous album Music for an Accelerated Culture, I think this album will come as a shock in some ways but it's still worth the listen if you can endure some of the musical and lyrical fluff ups that I've mentioned above 5/10
Lyrics — 4
Deliverance wise, I think James has nailed a lot of the vocal melodies and vocal lines despite some hiccups like some weaker vocals in Turn the Lights Out. The fact that he uses both his rap-style vocals and some cleaner singing vocals is nice to see. The addition of choir like singing voices and some particularly intimidating gang vocals are also nice touches to finish the album off. The lyrical side of the album however is the weak point. As said, lines such as It's ugly as your sister' in Ugly just show laziness in my opinion and the repetition of lines such as the numerous times House is Falling has it's lyrics repeated show a lack of ideas. There are some highlights to the lyrics like the line we drop beats that'll crack your cranium' in the song M.A.D, some nicely utilised polysyllabic wording in Rebirth, surfacing from the primordial waters take your pretence to the slaughter,' and plenty of other lyrics which definitely show violent prowess which I really feel comes across in this album. As said earlier on though, this violence is shown in a much more straight forward way as opposed to the playful, tongue-in-cheek method of displaying it used during their first album. Whilst this is certainly a noticeable difference to me in terms of lyrical content and deliverance, I feel it's a nice change in some respects and not so good in others. Where it may be a nice fresh experience in terms of listening to the band, I feel that the advancement is in the wrong direction, personally preferring their previously used sound myself. Either way, lyrics are definitely a weak side to this album. I really feel the band could have done better.
Overall Impression — 6
After having heard the band's previous album Music for an Accelerated Culture, I was really excited for any further advancement for Hadouken! after having heard For the Masses, I am equally disappointed and content with the album. I may be disappointed with the lyrics from certain areas of the album and certain songs didn't particularly engage me musically but there are still gems that I've found and really enjoy listening to. The change in style was very obvious to me and took some time to adjust to but overall the album was a fresh listen and gave me a few new favourite songs to listen to. I really wish that the band had kept to the same style they'd set for themselves and avoided the majority of repetition, attempts at being something more epic than they can achieve and weak lyrics/musical elements they use on the album and kept to the frantic and fun, tongue-in-cheek dark humour they used before. The physical presentation of the actual CD isn't all that impressive either to be honest. I really liked the pop-art style in which their last album was presented although I must say that the front cover of the album is still pretty cool. Besides that, the booklet is a little bare just including the lyrics and credits, two separate photos that I assume were taken at live gigs and a middle section that contains a band photo. As I said, nothing too exciting. In the end, I recommend this album to Hadouken! fans so they can see where the band is at but for other fans of this genre, I think there are better and stronger albums out there to listen to.