Retro Album Review: Take To The Skies by Enter Shikari

It’s time to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Enter Shikari’s debut album, Take To The Skies . So let us look back at my favourite album from my favourite band in the history of ever and find out what is so amazing about this little slice of genius.

There is an atmosphere to Take To The Skies that has become classic Shikari. Their use of intros and outros are a staple that all other Enter Shikari albums have followed since. Stand Your Ground; This Is Ancient Land is heavy on the electronics and has an eerie trance like aspect to it. Having an opening like this gets you pumped for the cascade of epic that you are about to hear.

Back in 2007 Enter Shikari had me at their opening lyrics ‘Shit! Shit!’ from this moment on I was hooked. The simple yet addictive chugs, tension building drumming  and the first time I heard front man Rou Reynolds throatily scream ‘Enter Shikari, Enter Shikari’ had my hair standing on end. It is one hell of a way to start an album. High octane and attention grabbing.

One of the many things about Take To The Skies that still hold up to this day is the use electronics and synths. It may be common now a days but back then I didn’t know whether to rave or mosh when the likes of Mothership bounced out of my speakers. Half of me wanted to jump up and down uncontrollably while the other half wanted to me leap straight into the pit. It’s inclusion makes even the most angst riddled song, Anything Can Happen In The Next Half Hour, descend into a rowdy symphony of raucousness.

Not content with making it a simple gimmick,  Enter Shikari use it in every song not just in the breakdowns but throughout. It is still one of the finest examples of synth driven influences in heavier music.  Rou’s use of synth in Labyrinth just shows how perfect this matchup is, with the chordy hardcore charged guitars being  backed up by the dance like beats. Two things that shouldn’t work together seem to fall side by side so effortlessly.

As for the more chaotic side. Return To Energiser and No Sssweat should have you covered. They are almost mathcore in nature, going from heavy riffage to calm and collective chorus with ease. No Sssweat even has some little chip tune/ 8 bit sounds lurking in the back ground which took me ten years to notice. See, even after ten years I am still finding little bits and pieces of this album to impress me.

Today Won’t Go Down In History and Adieu are proof that the band can go from all out rowdy to calming softer anthems in a matter of songs. Today Won’t Go Down In History is essentially a big build up of melancholic melodies that escalates to a humongous climax laid slap bang in the middle of the album.  Adieu is almost six minutes of ballad like acoustics backed up by some well placed melodic synth wobbles, heart warming drumming and swaying clean vocals. Anyone who thinks  that heavy musicians just scream needs to hear this song. It takes talent to be able to do both riot inducing shouts and lullaby like cleans.

My anthem for the whole of 2007 and 2008 and possibly 2009 has to be Sorry You’re Not A Winner. Who doesn’t remember clap, clap, clap. It was bloody brilliant. Everyone who followed the scene that year knew when to clap. It was catchy and bridged the gap between the solo guitar riff and united band explosion. The song itself is one of the most memorable of the album with its addictive riff, pulsating breakdown and simple yet affective music video.

Structure and atmosphere is key to Take To The Skies. I have already mentioned Stand Your Ground; This Is Ancient Land but there are also plenty of interludes and an outro that finishes the album off in style. These interludes keep the listener engaged whilst giving them a minute to get hyped for the song that is to come, for me the pinnacle is Interlude 4 that precede my favourite song of all time Jonny Sniper. The megaphone decries ‘ladies and gentlemen show your appreciation for Mr Jonny Sniper’ and then your marched forward by drumming and salute worthy synths setting up the song  wonderfully.

The album is already on a whole other level but then Jonny Sniper raises the bar even higher. To ludicrous heights. It is a versatile piece of music, utilising everything I have come to love from the band.  A song in which every member of the band shines through. Rory C riffs out a melodic tapping whilst bassist Chris Batten backs him up with a funky bass line. Rob’s rhythmical drumming keeps your head moving and the perfect combination of Rou’s powerful shouts and calming cleans are the sprinkles on top of this musical cake. The song has such a strong, powerful environmental message behind it but doesn’t stop the band having some fun. A serious message from a light hearted group of guys. This sums up Take To The Skies ,and most of Shikari’s material, as the heavy political and social messages get across to the listener whilst you can indulge yourself in some chaotic fun along the way.

You’ll be hyped into one last with hurrah with Ok, Time For Plan B. The repetition of ‘Let this battle commence one last time’ and chanting vocals will get even the most subdued amongst you riled up. It’s combination with Closing really finishes the album off perfectly. Two pretty heavy hitting tunes to end on. You’ll be left in awe during the final few minutes of the album as the music winds down to a halt as the instruments fade away one by one.

It was hard to convey everything I love about this album without writing an entire academic essay with references and scientific proof as to why it is so great. I think I was pushing it when the word count reached a thousand but Take To The Skies is the reason Enter Shikari are the first band I properly got into. Take To The Skies is the reason I started getting into music. Take To The Skies is the reason my first tattoo was Enter Shikari’s logo. Even though the band’s sound has changed over the years there is still shards of this album influencing Enter Shikari and their music. This is where it all started for me. The album is still as epic as it was ten years ago and will still be blasting out of my speakers until I bite the dust. Happy Birthday Take To The Skies, here is to ten glorious years!

Score: 10/10 / 5 Stars /100% / Perfect / Can Do No Wrong

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