Although Ohio-based metalcore troupe Attack Attack!‘s intention of making This Means War a seamless, fluent record is obvious even before the first listen (a quick scan of the album’s track listing reveals the repeated use of the word “the” in every song title), I was expecting a smooth record – not a repetitive one. But alas, I was once again confronted with a rather disappointing release from the four piece. After their bland rerelease of their self-titled album in summer 2011 (review), I was hoping Attack Attack! would redeem themselves with their third studio effort, and although this record is definitely worthy of a few kudos, it was not on par with what I would typically expect from the creative, genre-blending band I love.
This Means War is chock-full of the typical metalcore fare – syncopated rhythms, gritty guitars, deep cyber-breakdowns, and all the standard vocals styles (including bellowing screams, gang vocals, and a healthy serving of whoa-oh’s). And although the familiar chug-chug style that endears all Attack Attack! fans is there, I think most listeners will find that a lot of the usual danceability has been lost with this record, replaced instead with a decidedly darker sound. Unfortunately, this departure seems to be hesitant, and the audience is left in a bizarre middle ground. “The Hopeless” introduces a bubbly, outer-space inspired electronic effect that haunts the album – it is present in the majority of the songs, and although the record does begin to venture into the realm of sounds reminiscent of electro-infused bands such as Enter Shikari and Abandon All Ships, there are points during “The Reality” that cut it too close to dubstep territory for my comfort. Additionally, “The Motivation” features a delightful piano intro, and “The Eradication” provides the harshness I was craving throughout the entire record, although it’s position as the last song on the album leaves the listener wanting more in a place where they are not going to get it.
The Final Word: I would say this record is a solid one. It’s not a classic, like Attack Attack!‘s self-titled album, but die-hard fans will most likely find it satisfactory. In my opinion, This Means War seems to serve as the transfer paper placed beneath Attack Attack!’s original application for the metalcore club. It’s a faded impression of their previous records – and it will most likely get lost in the filing cabinet of their discography.