Oh crabcore, how I’ve missed you! For those who don’t follow their memes religiously, crabcore is the type of music that makes you want to chug the same chord repeatedly while you crouch really low to the ground like a crab. Or like you’re using the bathroom. It’s like the same thing, right? It’s arguable where this started, but most of us point to Attack Attack! for this. If you want to see the conception of this gift to man, check out the video below. Around the 1:16 mark, you’ll see what I mean. One knows crabcore once one sees it.
Anyways, back to the point. Attack Attack! is back with their third attempt at “serious” metal, This Means War. First off, let me just say they do a few things right this time around. Gone are the autotuned choruses and techno breakdowns that plagued their first two albums. Caleb Shomo take command on vocals this time around, and for the most part he does a pretty good job. Overall, This Means War is a huge improvement over their first two albums. Unfortunately, in the grand scheme of things, they still can’t measure up to other bands that are simply better than them.
The changes that I mentioned above are apparent in album opener The Revolution, as Shomo’s grating scream comes as a welcome surprise. The guitar work sports a new sound as well, going for some drop-g djent sounding riffs. The Betrayal follows up the intro with what is probably the best song on the CD, as Attack Attack! takes everything new that works and form it into one song. From Andrew Whiting‘s beefy riffs to John Holgado‘s throbbing bass, pretty much everything works. In the end, when all that’s left is Shomo’s voice screeching over Andrew Wetzel‘s pounding percussion, I actually felt some hope for the album.
Sadly, The Hopeless and The Reality are just lead-ins to the mid-album slump. Both songs sound way too similar, and everything that was surprising in the first two songs has quickly become commonplace. As great as Shomo’s screaming voice has become, his clean vocals sound radio-made, emulation Three Days Grace or some other radio-rock band of your choice. The Abduction tries to be a little tougher with a nifty little spoken interlude (“I don’t care what you say/I don’t care where you hide/I’m going to find you/And help you realize you made a big mistake”), but it just comes off as forced and a little corny.
Surprisingly, Attack Attack! picks things up with The Motivation and The Wretched, hitting hard and fast with two songs that show how they’re new sound could work in the future. Relegating small touches of electronic sounds to the background really help to accentuate their sound. The fact that these two songs are actually pretty good makes the rest of the album pretty sad. The last three tracks fly by in quick succession, coming and going without so much as a standout line or riff. Closer The Eradication comes close to being memorable, but in the end it becomes just another chugfest on an album that is rife with just that.
I went into This Means War with a lot of hope for Attack Attack! and their new sound. After hearing Last Breath from the deluxe edition of their self-titled, I knew they were on to something. Sadly, This Means War is not the best they can do. With their new sound and better grasp of what could make them stand out, Attack Attack! has the chance to make a record that will finally help them break out of mediocrity. It just looks like the third time isn’t the charm.
Fans of the band will absolutely eat this up, but beyond that Attack Attack! won’t be making any new converts. Maybe the next time around they can create something a little more memorable and unique, but as it stands, This Means War is nothing more than a workout album: something loud and fast without substance.
This Means War was released on January 17th, 2012