This Means War by Attack Attack! is kind of like burnt bacon: it’s both good and bad, but there’s no way you’re not eating it. Fans of Attack Attack! will undoubtedly give their latest outing a spin and may be pleasantly surprised. Even some people that despise the band and everything they do will check out This Means War to verify their ongoing hatred for the band. This Means War is set to be released on January 17 via Rise Records.
This Means War is unlike anything the band has ever released before. The most noticeable change is the departure of guitarist/backing vocalist Johnny Franck. Lead vocalist Caleb Shomo has taken over the clean vocal duties since Franck’s departure. Attack Attack! has lost some of their catchiness without Franck, although Shomo’s clean vocals are more “manly.” I suppose the better of the two should be left up to personal preference. I, however, prefer Franck’s clean vocals and I feel like the band and their new album would have been better off had Franck not left the band.
Despite the fact that This Means War is not as catchy as the band’s previous albums, it still has some redeeming qualities. This album is much heavier and much more mature than anything else the band has released. They’ve ditched the goofy song titles, such as What Happens if I Can’t Check My MySpace When We Get There and Bro, Ashley’s Here, and the R&B-influenced interludes, such as Shut Your Mouth and Fumbles O’Brian. Attack Attack! has opted for a “djent” style on this album, which should come as no surprise if you’ve been paying attention to current trends in the metalcore genre. The guitar chugs are reminiscent of bands like Volumes. Attack Attack! seems to be trying to make a conscious effort to abandon their roots as a “crabcore” band and for this, I salute them.
Attack Attack! has also largely abandoned incorporating dubstep into their music, although electronic elements can still be heard on tracks such as The Wretched and The Confrontation. This, too, is a positive for the band. As someone who despises dubstep and everything it stands for, I can’t help but feel somewhat satisfied that the style is losing ground in metalcore. I will admit, however, that I did enjoy songs from Attack Attack! that had a prominent electronic influence, such as Sexual Man Chocolate, Smokahontas, and Renob, Nevada.
Even though This Means War is the most mature Attack Attack! album to date, it is not a varied as their previous effort, Attack Attack!. The R&B influenced interludes were a little odd, but they offered a change of pace. Some of the songs were incredibly heavy, such as AC-130, and some of the songs placed a lot of emphasis on electronics and clean vocals, such as Sexual Man Chocolate. Most of the songs on This Means War, however, follow the same general pattern and are largely similar.
This Means War is both a step in the right direction and a minor misstep for Attack Attack!. On one hand, it is a much more mature album and the band should earn some credit for attempting to become something more than a “crabcore” band. On the other hand, it is not as catchy or as varied as previous releases. If Attack Attack! can take the new ideas that they brought to the table, flesh them out, and explore this new style in depth, they may be on to something.