Attack Attack!

This Means War

01. The Revolution
02. The Betrayal
03. The Hopeless
04. The Reality
05. The Abduction
06. The Motivation
07. The Wretched
08. The Family
09. The Confrontation
10. The Eradication

[01/17/12]
[Rise Records]

What can I possibly say about Attack Attack! that hasn’t already been said? Only a few short years ago they were the butt of every joke as the poster boys for all that is wrong with what metalcore has become. Generic breakdown-laden metalcore with autotuned vocals, misguided electronic parts, and choreographed stage moves was just too ridiculous, and I’m sure the band hasn’t heard the end of it since their ‘breakout hit’ ‘Stick Stickly.’ A lot can change a band over the course of two albums, and with lineup changes plaguing them, Attack Attack! have proved themselves to be quite resilient. I mean, regardless what you think about the band, it takes strength to keep pursuing your career after an embarrassing viral video and losing about half your band. Through it all, the band has managed to mature, making an effort to be taken seriously as musicians. Their latest album This Means War sees the band going from hilariously awful to just unoffensive.

On This Means War, Attack Attack! say goodbye to the autotune and the silly dance music. Instead, they’ve traded for 7-string guitars and a more straightforward heavier metalcore sort of sound. With the extended range comes djenty riffs and a considerable amount of groove. The keyboards were dialed back quite a bit as well, with only the occasional synth line here and there to provide more hooks and melodies. The band has improved in pretty much every aspect, with songs having memorable riffs instead of being breakdown-oriented. Truth be told, This Means War can be quite enjoyable if you let it be. It’s shocking, isn’t it?

Of course, that isn’t to say that This Means War is some breakthrough record for anything other than the band itself. Attack Attack! are as derivative as ever, but at least they managed to pull from more respectable sources. Lets not kid ourselves—the band still sounds quite in place with any other band you can find on the Rise Records roster or bands similar to that genre and scene. Many tracks have a very A Day To Remember vibe, especially the catchy choruses and the cheesy group chant in ‘The Family.’ There’s also the comparison of Emmure in the vocal cadence of frontman/keyboardist Caleb Shomo. Attack Attack! somehow manage to be better than both of those bands this time around, however.

Speaking of Caleb Shomo, his harsh vocal-chord heavy screams sound painful, as if his technique is going to leave him without a voice if he keeps it up. You can hear his voice strain quite a few times, and my throat sympathizes. His screams are like sandpaper in the mix, and while clear and enunciated, have a messy tone. Just listen to the scream at the end of ‘The Motivation’ and try to keep yourself from cringing. His lyrics are none too inviting either; in the aforementioned track ‘The Family,’ which has lyrics such as, “I’m standing strong with my friends at my side. This is all that I have to hold on to, but it’s enough to get me through this.” Yikes.

Obviously, even This Means War will not sway any die-hard metalheads or music elitists. However, this album marks the monumental change in Attack Attack! from horrendous to—at absolute worst—boring and generic. At its best though, This Means War can be pretty fun if you check your ego at the door. Just make sure you have your last.fm scrobbler turned off and your headphones plugged in with no one around.

Attack Attack! – This Means War gets…

3/5

– JR

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