Attack Attack! – This Means War – Review

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As one of the only bands in history to be remembered for imitating a crustacean, the flamboyant and equally as heavy, metalcore (lately boarding on death metal) four-piece Attack Attack! has secured a listeners spot with many simply for the novelty of having their metal cake and eating it to the tune of electronica, while squatting really low to the ground and shredding. The guys at AA! have however come along way from their freshman album, the brash, “Someday Came Suddenly.“ The departure of vocalists Austin Carlile and Nick Barham ushered in an unnecessarily heavy metalcore style featured in 2010′s self-titled record, the result of the addition of Caleb Shomo at lead vocals, and the noticeably thick riffs lended by guitarist Johnny Franck. With the bands hardest effort in their rear-view, fans became curious if Attack Attack! would even be able to continue the trend and rupture listeners ear drums with more guttural, down-tuned guitars as well as providing more contrasting singing and fluttering effects. With the groups latest record, “This Means War” upon us, I can tell you they have since fallen very far.

When AA! shed their cocky and annoying bouncy metalcore in 2009, many were able to warm up to the idea that a (very) scene band like Attack Attack! could reform their style into what amounted to an impressive wall of reverbed sound, drop tuned chugs, and growling vocals in songs like “A For Andrew” and “Renob Nevada” — which made up the majority of “Attack Attack!.” Since however, Johnny has left the band (lessening the bands overall presence) and Caleb has pulled an “Atreyu” and taken a balanced attack of heavy and melodic (“The Curse”) and has since devolved the bands sound into a cheap, feather-weight version of their former state (“Congregation Of The Damned”). A similar effect occurred over time with other outfits, such as Avenged Sevenfold, leading me to believe that most front men with invariably seek out hard rock.

This Means War” houses only songs that begin with “The ________” and follows such vague properties of reality, ie. “The Betrayal,” “The Motivation,” and “The Family.” Interesting, a concept record eh? Not really — instead the album meanders along with no sustained strength or looming presence, with all the switches being pulled by Caleb, as he wrote most of the lyrics (dull at best) and even produced the whole effort (a first for the band who should have enlisted their seasoned producer, Joey Strugis. Was he really busy or something?). Either way, guitarist Andrew Whiting now shares lead and rhythm guitar duties, often spreading the rejuvenating drop-G riffs a little to thin (ie. “The Hopeless” and “The Wretched”). Caleb has also gutted many of the chorus growls that perforated the previous effort, in favor of a cadre of trancy sing-a-longs in between verses. Not to mention what sounds like an altered shout growl combination from him then previously (Hello Alex Varkatzas).

The bands electronica elements turn their heads every so often (although not as often as previously) and mostly occupy the bands chipper choruses. On the hard front, there are shots in the arm every so often, like in the shuttering breakdowns of “The Confrontation” and the fidgety fretwork and throaty vocals of “The Reality.” But the cheesy shouts of “Get Up!,” “Come On!,” and “Yea!” on songs like “The Abduction” and ”The Family,” as well as the generally softer (headed for hard rock) direction that “This Means War” is veering towards, just make this record a pain to listen to. Just tuning your guitars down more doesn’t solve a sound-fullness problem, and that is what the band now suffers from. So keep making videos like “Smokahontas,” add another rhythm guitarist, and hire Mr. Sturgis or Adam D. (Killswitch Engage) to engineer your music into the death metal we all know you aspire to be and everything will be just fine. [Staff]

Score: 2.5 (out of 5)

Release Date: January 17th, 2012
Record Label: Rise Records
Genre: Metalcore
RIYL: Asking Alexandria, We Came As Romans, Of Mice & Men

Track Listing:
1. The Revolution
2. The Betrayal
3. The Hopeless
4. The Reality
5. The Abduction
6. The Motivation
7. The Wretched
8. The Family
9. The Confrontation
10. The Eradication

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