Whenever I see a new metalcore release popping up in one of our lists, I'd
immediately take that album to review it. You may think that's because I love
this genre so much - not as much as some might assume, though - It's because
I'll never stop believing that there's going to be that one new metalcore band
that will blow me away like the founders of metalcore did. What I'm therefore
searching for in new metalcore releases is the perfect balance between
aggressiveness and energy, technical skill, innovation and emotion. Considering
what bands like As I Lay Dying or Killswitch Engage created and are still doing
musically to date, finding bands as great as those guys nowadays is tougher than
ever. Everyone who is familiar with The End Of Heartache (KSE), An
Ocean Between Us or Awakened (AILD) knows what I'm talking about.
We are located in Halle, Germany, where guitarist, singer and producer Christoph
Wieczorek and guitarist (bassist after) Norbert Rose founded the melodic
metalcore band Annisokay in 2007 whose band name is inspired by
Michael Jackson's song "Smooth Criminal". After a couple of line-up changes, the
band was ready to record the first EP You, Always and their debut album
The Lucid Dream[er] soon afterwards which has been released
independently. Annisokay's second album Enigmatic Smile
has been released via SPV Records on 20 March, 2015 and the ones who
listened to the debut were surely anxious to hear how the band had evolved.
The Lucid Dream[er] already showed off nicely the bands ability to create
dynamics, relatively enhanced electronic elements you've got to like to truly
appreciate and impressive vocal work by harsh vocalist Dave Grunewald and clean
vocalist Christoph Wieczorek.
With Enigmatic Smile, Annisokay discovered the more
natural side of their sound - the techno/dubstep stake got substantially less
and the whole record sounds more organic. Other than that, the overall sound and
songwriting approach didn't significantly change.
What I like about this band in general is that they don't
sound compelled at all. These guys just know how to write heavy, innovative and
catchy songs at the same time without trying too hard: with groove and changing dynamics, technical
approach, energetic riffing, varied lead guitars and mind-blowing and touching
vocals, Annisokay got me like no young band during the last couple of months and
like no other German act ever could to date. They're rather on the happy side of
metal than classic metalcore or hardcore, so Annisokay's forte
definitely are their catchy and melodic tunes you can sing along to in your car.
However, they do excel at heavy riffing and breakdowns as well. "Carry Me Away"
is a killer song that will get you from the first second on, "New Autumn Light"
constantly changes from an up-tempo alternative hardcore song to a heavier
riff-centered track. "Panic Attack" start off with a decent portion of deathcore
accompanied by a lead guitar melody, which represents the common theme of this
track and seamlessly transitions into the catchy chorus. Lastly, "Life Cycles"
is a heartfelt ballad containing solely clean vocals.
I only have two negative points for this release: The fact that the band didn't
evolve too much in terms of songwriting disappoints me a bit. That doesn't make
the actual record less awesome, but I do believe that the first records are the best
ones to experiment with. In addition, I miss the certain thrilling energy and
those intense straight into your face-moments found on other metalcore records
or even in the song "Sky" from their previous album -
those elements would really put the cherry on the cake. However, "Carry Me Away"
is already heading into the right direction.
To sum up, Enigmatic Smile is an album that fans of the band, metalcore fans
with a weakness for catchy music (aka me) or even lovers of energetic
alternative hard rock and metal will definitely enjoy. Annisokay
doubtlessly surprised me, and not only that. They were very close to blowing me
away, and indeed, I can imagine that they will with their next record. But until then,
let's enjoy Enigmatic Smile. I definitely do.