Album Review: Attack Attack!’s “This Means War”
Attack Attack!, from the start of their career, were known for trying to mix metalcore and techno/electronica. But they didn’t so much mix it as have two separate musical sections in the same song. And it was not fun to listen to. Most of the flack came from their music video for Stick Stickly which is not only a really bad song but a REALLY bad video. The screaming is weak, the electronica is just…. ugh, and the whole song just doesn’t work.
I even gave their self-titled a chance, but found myself too distracted by the stark differences in styles, and the strange amalgamation of trying to mix dark lyrics with dancey love lyrics. It did not work, though there were a few songs that stood out as being listenable at best. One song in particular, AC-130, stood out because it was straight metalcore/hardcore with no electronica whatsoever. Which brings up an interesting fact: the heavier parts of their songs are indeed mosh-worthy (sometimes). But this is overlooked by the fact that they’re… well, Attack Attack!.
When I first learned of their newest single last month, called The Motivation, I was really surprised. It was many things that were not bad. They were able to mix the electronica and metalcore well by taking a more subtle approach rather than have, say, a dance breakdown. Instead of auto-tuning the shit out of the clean vocals, they are untouched and different with more of a modern rock sound. The opening is a soft yet dark piano piece with string accompaniment. Even the breakdown is different than just CHUG CHUG CHUG. Which lead me to actually have some expectation for their new album, “This Means War.”
The Motivation is the 6th track on “This Means War,” and, unfortunately, everything up to that point doesn’t really stand out. Most of the the down-tuned riffs sound the same, and even the first track, The Revolution, seems to be a carbon copy. The songs have little-to-no differentiation. It’s very unfortunate, because the second half is where Attack Attack!’s new creativity begins to shine through. Track 5, The Abduction, is really where the album takes an unexpected turn, with a driving force unseen in previous tracks. While still keeping in the occasional metalcore breakdown parts, it mixes well, and it has no clean vocals either. It’s just different.
Really, there’s songs the album could do without. Tracks 5, 6, 9, and 10 are really the only 4 that show progression from what Attack Attack! used to be, while keeping the best parts of what they used to be (few and far between, but they are there). The album does have notable parts, but they unfortunately tend to not be on the same song. And, the biggest detriment to the album is that, while it is a concept album, the songs seem to not work together as well. As stated before, most seem to be the same thing over and over again.
I have to say that I was not impressed by this album. It’s not that memorable as a whole. However, there are tracks that have strength and do stand out amongst the others. While I think the album is forgettable, it is a step in a good direction. They’ve gotten a handle on what to do about the electronica madness, and they were able to put out a few songs that show a little something I wasn’t expecting. From what I’ve read, fans are split, but so are the haters. When you can change someone’s mind for the better, or at least for the “not as bad,” then I think you’ve done something.
Attack Attack! are not bad. They’re not that good, either (when considering their whole body of work), but maybe, one day, they’ll really surprise us.