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REVIEW: Enter Shikari – ‘The Mindsweep’

The Mindsweep: Out now!
The Mindsweep: Out now!

Take a look at England in 2015, and it’s quite evident that there’s a bit of unrest in the country. What, with the National Health System constantly in question, the uproar of 2014’s European elections, the vote for Scotland’s independence and having supposedly risen from the recession. Russell Brand is one of the heavily-mediated activists at the forefront, but, there don’t appear to be a great deal of musicians who take part in the same sort of political activism, as has nearly always been the case with ‘mainstream’ music due to its very nature (easy listening, mentally unchallenging). For years now, it’s been no secret that Enter Shikari are a (if not, THE) politically active spearhead of the ‘Alternative’ music scene. With each release, their fury against Britain’s lacklustre government, the 1%, discrimination, climate change and war has become more and more apparent. The Mindsweep, amongst other things stands as a political weapon and exploration of The Oxford Dictionary.

Make no mistake, 2015 will be Enter Shikari’s year. Thus far, they have released what is certain to be a highly critically acclaimed album that sets the bar for all artists this year. They have yet again secured a slot as Second Stage headliner at Download Festival. A slot they were first given in 2013, whereby they pulled in the stage’s largest ever crowd. They have a popup shop in Camden on the album’s release date that will be self-run. They also have a near sold out 10-date UK tour, including two London Roundhouse shows, and will inevitably perform at Reading & Leeds Festival, climbing ever higher up the Main Stage.

All three of Enter Shikari’s studio albums have found themselves at spot no.16 or higher in the Official UK Album Charts, and The Mindsweep  will no doubt, be no exception. It is an album with a calibre most bands would strive to achieve and is potentially career defining. As always, it is sporadic, raging, experimental metal-cum-post-Hardcore and Electronica-enthused. This isn’t anything new for the St. Albans four-piece, rather, an accomplished and rounded product of the styles and influences they have honed throughout their 12-year existence.

The Mindsweep opens up with “The Appeal & The Mindsweep I”: a rant not too dissimilar from “System/Meltdown” – the opening tracks of the album’s predecessor A Flashflood of Colour. As Rou Reynolds quite rightly points out and as the title suggests, it is “an appeal”. It is one that asks us to fight for human kind against the moral wrongs of the planet. There’s also a drop two minutes through that is so 90s Trance, that Faithless would be jealous. One of the album’s strongest tracks for sure. Its successor is a little weaker, and a little more tranquil (as far as Enter Shikari do tranquil). Not to say it is isn’t still strong; it just doesn’t have the same vigour and impact, at least until it picks up after the two-minute mark, sounding triumphant and conquering.

Tracks three to five are all of some familiarity to us, previously being aired by the band. “Anaesthetist” is a rinsing of the state that we find the NHS to be in at the hands of David Cameron and the likes that govern our country. Cries of “Step the fuck back”, “Bad luck; you pay the price” and “you parasite!” show that Rou means business, along with the promise “you will not profit off our health”. Quite right, sir. The song itself is heavy, dirty and bassy – in essence, a banger. “The Last Garrison” and “Never Let Go of The Microscope” are both amalgamations of intelligently thought out lyrics and genius song structure.

We could go on for days about each and every detail of the tracks on this album that make them so immensely brilliant. Not to mention how much Rou has challenged himself vocally and stretched his lyrical prowess – both to great avail. The second half of the album follows on in a similar vein – from the beautifully crafted and eye-opening “Myopia” that is an exhumation of the issues our earth’s animals find themselves drowning in because of climate change. To the frantic, raucous “Price On Your Head” that picks apart the ridiculousness of the divide of class structure in our country.

The Mindsweep concludes on Part II of “The Appeal & The Mindsweep I”, which essentially starts where it left off. Boisterous screams and colossal synthesised sounds, a re-sampled line from “Sorry, You’re Not A Winner” thrown in for good measure and a 20 second outbreak of what sounds like disjointed Latin. The erratic nature of this final track summarises the nature of Enter Shikari as a band. The Mindsweep may well be their masterpiece. It is a call to arms for this country to finally do something about its problems. Whether or not this is a spark for a revolution, we will see. It will, however, find its way into the ears of thousands and hopefully change the direction some artists decide to take when writing their next album. Bravo, Enter Shikari.

Purchase the CD here

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Nathan Daniel

Hey guys! I'm Nathan (I guess that's obvious). I've always absolutely loved music and thanks to this site, I now get the chance to write about loads of stuff. Unlike most people that work here, though, I'm from the UK. I study photography at University and I'm always dead busy. @nathaaandaniel

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