We sit on a planet coming ever closer to destruction each day. If it isn’t the constant threat of climate change or lethal disease looking to bring the Earth to its knees, then it’s the near constant stream of pointless wars, or the fact that idiots, criminals and unprincipled bastards govern what is and isn’t right. Amidst all the dysfunction stand bands like Enter Shikari, a bastion of sense and intelligence, not afraid to let out their opinions on the world uncensored, and tell it like it is. And in our hour of greatest need, like a response to some great Bat-signal in the sky, they’ve returned again with The Mindsweep.
What this album is, is everything that has become synonymous with Enter Shikari over the last few years turned up to the absolute maximum. Lyrically, the subject matter once again gravitates to the ills of the world, but still manages to stay fresh. Rou Reynolds is as scathing and acid-tongued as ever, taking precision aim at the source of those ills, but doing so in a far more intelligent and classy way than most others are able to muster. This in itself is hardly a surprise – Enter Shikari have always managed to do social commentary and protest in the most entertaining way possible. What the biggest surprise is, is that they’re still finding new and exciting ways to show they’ve still got the bit between their teeth, as on The Bank Of England and the frankly incredible There’s A Price On Your Head.
It’s musically that The Mindsweep really holds its own. Destroying genre boundaries has always been par for the course for Enter Shikari, but here sees them pushing themselves further than ever before, taking sounds that have no business commingling with each other and fusing them in an entirely cohesive way. Anaesthetist is a prime example of this; starting with an almost film noir-style opening, this soon makes way for repeating passages of grimy dubstep beats and breakneck hardcore fury before capping off with one absolute monster of a breakdown. Meanwhile, The Last Garrison swerves between abrasive synth stabs and uplifting dubstep swathes sounding not entirely unlike Sub Focus’s Tidal Wave, while Never Let Go Of The Microscope largely consists of mellow trip-hop beats (and the album’s best demonstration of Reynold’s much improved rapping) before it’s utterly triumphant gang-chant of “We swear allegiance to no one!” The aformentioned There’s A Price On Your Head that shows the band at their most absurd though, segueing from hardcore barks to almost 8-Bit synths and even a passage of what sounds like Eastern strings. It would be almost inconceivable to imagine any other band undertaking such feats, but it’s the success that Enter Shikari have each time by nigh on perfecting the impossible that makes them so important.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that Enter Shikari are a British institute. Every couple of years sees them returning with a new album full of socially-conscious, but unfalteringly exciting and innovative bangers, and The Mindsweep is the latest in the line. It’s bold, it’s clever, and it sees both the band’s career and creative output accelerating at a rate of knots. For not the first, and what certainly isn’t to be the last time, Enter Shikari have delivered and then some.
For fans of: The Prodigy, The King Blues, Shikari Sound System
Words by Luke Nuttall