Power of Metal.dk Review

Enigmatic Smile
Style: Melodic Metalcore
Release date: 20 March, 2015
Playing time: 44:41

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.

01. Carry Me Away
Naked City
Panic Attack
Wolves In The Walls
Fragile Line
Life Cycles
New Autumn Light
What Is Left
Label: SPV Records
Distribution: Playground Music
Artwork rating: 75/100
Reviewed by: Cristina Somcutean
Date: 7 April, 2015
Website: www.annisokay.com