Giddy as I unzip the mysterious blue folder on my desktop that contains the new Attack Attack! album This Means War, I ponder a few things: Which album will this be most comparable to? How much synth will be included? Will I still be a fan after this? Why does it take so long to download albums? Half a minute into the first song, I am unsure; torn between the strained screams that sound more like throaty yells and the clever drum rhythm paired with a guitar riff that entailed more than a quick strumming of the D-string. Twenty seconds and a breakdown later, I am somewhat reassured that this was the same band I have always enjoyed – secretly or not.
This album exhibits many of the popular traits found in recent metal bands, such as punk beats and the combination of clean yelling and screams (see Woe, Is Me’s “Vengeance”), while also somewhat containing a more mature version of the Attack Attack! found on their self-titled album, and leaving the overly auto-tuned lifestyle behind. This Means War is an incredibly heavier than anything they have done in the past; if Someday Came Suddenly is what you are looking for, this is not it. “Bro, Ashley’s Here” and rap-inspired intros are a thing of the past, and say goodbye to “crabcore” Attack Attack! and hello to 2012 Attack Attack!.
Everything is good in moderation. Everything, being the code word here for punk beats, which are, in my opinion, only decent for a couple songs per album. Once you pass the four-song mark, back to back, it’s time to move on and learn a new pattern- unless the goal of the album is to gift listeners with a headache and high blood pressure.
At or around track four, “The Reality,” you will start to wonder, “have they almost completely done away with the synth?” in which case, the answer is: most certainly not. That ever-so-familiar sound creeps back into their songs starting with the breakdown two and a half minutes in, and from then on is not a stranger to the album, with their signature sound being most present in “The Motivation.” Another unfamiliar happening for the band is vocals completely void of auto-tune – and Caleb Shomo has talent! Though some of the songs have vocals that I consider corny in the slightest way possible (listen to “The Abduction”), overall the pros outweigh the cons, and if clean vocals do not interest you, they are a rarity on the album anyway.
So to clarify the answers of the initial questions, This Means War is most comparable to their self-titled album, but not completely comparable to any of their previous work; the synth included in the album is just enough to satisfy any former Attack Attack! fan, and not enough to peeve any non-fans (speaking of fans, I still consider myself one); and lastly, the world will never know why it takes so long to download albums.