I’m not gonna lie, I’m a huge Attack Attack! fan. They took some getting used to, but they grew on me. I started listening to them in 2009 and haven’t stopped since.
To tell you more about the band, they’re a group of four friends that formed this band sometime when they were all 15. They were originally a band of six that featured Austin Carlile (now the vocalist of Of Mice & Men) as their lead vocalist. They have produced three studio albums thus far and I guess I am now going to review their latest one, This Means War.
First off, I have to give you guys a small lesson on the history of Attack Attack!. Johnny Franck, one of the original members, always handled the clean (otherwise melodic or singing) vocals and rhythm guitar. On their first album, Someday Came Suddenly, he was very heavily auto-tuned and the band as a whole was looking to mix two genres together. This was off-putting for some people as the idea of dubstep/techno and metal together was stupid. I thought it was pretty cool and of course, all the cool metalheads at school thought I was a weirdo for it.
Austin Carlile was let go after the first album (or during one of their tours, I’m not too sure) and was replaced by Nick Barham. Nick never went on to record anything with Attack Attack! and he soon left. For their second album, the self-titled Attack Attack!, the band decided to promote one of their own personnel to the lead vocalist status. The lucky man who was promoted was Caleb Shomo, their synth player/programmer/producer/low screamer. Shomo is a very talented guy. He even plays some guitar (although I’m not sure if he records any of the parts). Shomo took over as the harsh vocalist and Franck learned to sing without auto-tune (at least, that’s how it sounds to me). Their second album seemed much more fluid in terms of the mixing of dubstep and metal. It seemed so much more cohesive than it was on the first album.
Unfortunately, after the second album was released, Johnny Franck, who is a very religious man, decided to leave the band to focus more on other things (one of which being his connection to his religion). And now, here we are with the four-man Attack Attack!. Caleb now handles all the vocals for Attack Attack!. Sorry if that was a bit confusing, but you’ll get why I went over all of that in a second. Now I’ll actually review the album. :p
This Means War was released on January 17th, 2012. I know, it’s weird of me to be reviewing an album so soon, especially since I have a self-imposed rule against it. It features 10 songs. Of course, the first thing I have to comment on is that the whole album is written in drop-G. Holy shit.
Andrew Whiting (guitars) seems to have grown with each album they produce. Either his playing abilities have matured or he has been given more free reign over what he can play and contribute. On this album, he shows that he can tap and handle much better runs than what Attack Attack! has written before.
In terms of bass, John Holgado certainly seems like he has figured out a tone that works well for him. I’m no bassist, but I can’t say much about metal bassists. To be honest, it’s a bit easy, especially when you play under the sub-genre of metalcore/djent. By the way, did I mention that this whole album sounds very djent-like?
Andrew Wetzel (drums/percussion) is solid as always. I have noticed that Attack Attack! has gone in a more punk direction what with a lot of double-time/polka beats here and there.
Now, the vocals were different. Since becoming the full-time vocalist for Attack Attack!, Caleb has begun screaming highs and lows. I love his low screams. They’re ridiculous. On their first and second albums, that’s all he did. He was an absolute beast. On this album, I almost don’t hear his low screams anymore. I know they’re there, but nearly the whole album is written in highs. I’m no lead screamer nor do I ever plan to be one, but his highs sound odd to me. It’s as if he’s still getting the hang of it. I’m sure that over time, they’ll develop into much greater screams, but right now, it’s a bit off to me. His singing is on point though, I can’t argue with that. He’s got a baritone range and I love it. Way to rep for the guys with low voices, haha!
Admittedly, I might find his high screams odd because I’m so used to hearing him scream in his lower register, but we’ll see if I come to like his new style. :p
Anyhow, This Means War stands up pretty well as a whole. I think that they wrote a bit of a concept album. All the lyrics deal with a single storyline, as far as I can tell. It’s rather different from their old lyrics (all written either by Austin Carlile or Johnny Franck…and both of their lyrics all had to do with religion)…but I’m not complaining. These guys went from being labeled Christcore to a solid metal band. I dig the album but I think that only seasoned metalheads will really like it. For those that are new to metal, this might not be for you. Still, give it a listen. And if you don’t like anything from This Means War, I’ll post a song from each of their previous albums. You can give those a listen and see if you like the band at all, haha. All in all, I respect these guys a whole bunch. The crazy part is that they’re all younger than me (way to make me feel like a totally unaccompished musician)! Haha, best of luck to these guys. I know I’ll be following them for as long as they make music. Thanks for reading!
Stick Stickly – from Someday Came Suddenly
(The recorded vocals were done by Austin Carlile, but he was no longer in the band when they shot this music video. Instead, you see Nick Barham phantom screaming in the video. Johnny Franck can be seen singing with all the auto-tune in the world and playing guitar. Caleb Shomo can be seen playing the synth and keyboard.)
Smokahontas – from Attack Attack!
(Johnny Franck can be seen with the crazy dreads playing guitar and singing without auto-tune. Caleb Shomo can be seen phantom screaming. You can also hear his work on the synth/keys throughout the whole song and how the dubstep/metal meshes much better. For you crazy fan girls, John Holgado [bass] is the guy dumping the body in the beginning. Shomo screams almost the entire song in his lower register.)
The Confrontation – from This Means War
(The band, in my opinion, has grown more melodic. This is, in my opinion, the best song off of the album. If you listen to the closing breakdown, you’ll see what I mean when I say that Whiting has definitely improved. Caleb nearly screams in his highs for the entire duration of the song. His singing is solid.)