Music | Album Review: Enter Shikari – A Flash Flood Of Colour | This Is Entertainment

Originality is a hard thing to come by in music. Endless samplings, covers and re-releases plague the charts on a regular basis, which makes the likes of Enter Shikari all the more refreshing. With this third release, A Flash Flood of Colour, the band have really found their niche, a perfect mix of melodic and hardcore synth rock, filled with energy and, most importantly for this album, defiance.

The band have always poked fun a The System. You only need to look at the lyrics of their breakthrough release ‘Sorry, You’re Not a Winner’, with lyrics like “Scratch card glory, waist low pleasure?” and “What have you got to lose but false intentions and a life so pretentious?”, to see the band wants to say what’s on people’s minds.

This album goes a stage further, preaching the destruction of society in no subtle terms. Luckily not to the extent that it makes the music bloated or self-indulgent. From opener ‘System…’ there is a massive scale to the album which grows with each track, dancing from rave to heavy rock (often within the same song) – this isn’t the sort of album you can sing along to, but that’s no bad thing.

The slightly more radio-friendly tunes, such as ‘Warm Smiles Do Not Make You Welcome Here’ and ‘…Meltdown’ really bring the extremes of the band together best, and even the rage-fest ‘Gandhi Mate, Gandhi’ somehow manages to get its point across.

The album is bristling with musical talent, to bring keyboards and heavily distorted guitars together seamlessly is a skill, and while there are moments which might be too shouty for some, there are no tracks which really stumble.

Some of the songs, particularly the hypnotic ‘…Meltdown’ demand a live airing to get the full effect, but the energy captured on disc is impressive, pulling the listener from track to track relentlessly – even through the quieter moments.

In all a fantastic slice of musical prowess, delivering everything we’ve come to expect from the band and a few extra twists and turns thrown in for good measure.

The reflective closer ‘Constellation’ offers a final coda that sums up the album’s energetic journey. It paints a picture of two trains, one bound for destruction and one for sustainability, but after this formidable release it’s safe to say Enter Shikari have their seats reserved on the latter.

Rating: 4/5

James Michael Parry

Believing the hype – Part 3: Most anticipated Xbox games of 2012 | This Is Entertainment

With the next Xbox possibly around the corner, 2012 could be the last hurrah for the 360, but will it be its biggest yearever? Ahead of a distinctly Xbox-themed week, here are a few of our most anticipated titles for Xbox 360 this year.

Mass Effect 3 – March 9

The conclusion to the biggest space opera of the decade draws ever closer, with the fate of Commander Shepard being revealed. The best part of this game is the fact that every player’s story will finish differently, as a result of countless decisions made through the previous two titles (presuming you played them, and if not, shame on you). Endless possibilities beckon, did you punch the journalist in the face? Did you release the space beast in ME1? Did you save whats-his-face’s wife? There’s new features, such as an added element of danger to the omni-tool with an added melee blade, and even slicker combat style with everything polished up from ME2’s leap forward. There might be a slightly uneasy multiplayer mode added, but with BioWare pouring everything into this final instalment, and with no Mass Effect 4 on the way meaning no loose ends to leave open, they will be sure to end Shepard’s story out with a bang.

Max Payne 3 – March

A sequel which has been a long time coming, and from a new studio, the new Max Payne title keeps the spirit of the first two games with a more gritty edge – courtesy of Grand Theft Auto Kings Rockstar Studios (though admittedly a different branch to that creating Grand Theft Auto 5, also due this year, but the story is from the same lead writer). Always a broken character, Max is older, boozier and has a penchant for head-shaving in this game, which is set a few years after the events of The Fall of Max Payne. The signature bullet-time returns, with 360 degree shooting, as well as Max’s trusty painkillers. There’s also multiplayer on the cards, and with Rockstar calling the shots it’s sure to be something special, expect unusual game modes and there’s even dynamic maps which change in-play to contend with. With third person shooters quieter this year with no new Gears of War title, Max could well fill the void and deliver an out and out shooting-fest with real character.

Aliens: Colonial Marines – 2012

Almost 30 years after the release of James Cameron’s film, the dreams of xenomorph fans across the world could well be answered in the form of Colonial Marines. While it may have lost its original squad-based shooter dynamic, the game is shaping up to deliver as strong an alien playing experience as well as letting you fill the shoes of machine-gun and flamethrower-toting marines. There’s no heads-up display, which should make for a more immersive experience, but there is some relief in the form of the signature gun-mounted motion-tracker. There’s new alien types available too, as well as the classic xenomorph and the face-hugger, there are ‘runners’ which are faster, scout-style aliens, and you can be sure the queen will make an appearance at some point. The game is set on planet LV-426, the same place where the Aliens film is set, but some time after, and it’s been confirmed the crashed ship from the first film will feature, suggesting plenty of fan service. There have been concerns about the ‘meaty-ness’ of the Aliens’ acid blood, but this is a franchise dear to the hearts of many, which should be ecouragement enough for developers Gearbox to get it right. The developers have a reasonable back catalogue – if you omit the misstep that was Duke Nukem Forever – having contributed to the Half Life series as well as Brothers in Arms and Borderlands, putting the game on course to deliver the experience fans have been waiting for.

BioShock Infinite – 2012

From the depths of dystopian Rapture to the blinding heights of Columbia, BioShock Infinite will make you long for darkness. Another broken society, Columbia isn’t empty of life bar crazed slicers, but a functioning(ish – it has descended into warring factions) city with people milling around. One of those inhabitants is Elizabeth, who protagonist Booker DeWitt is trying to rescue from the city, which is a metropolis flying high above the Earth. Instead of walking around through corridors, you glide through the city on ‘skyrails’, as Elizabeth follows along behind. Reportedly an interactive AI, Elizabeth reacts to your actions, behaving differently depending on what you do. If designer Ken Levine is to be believed, then it should offer the most developed player to AI relationship in a game. Elizabeth isn’t just a follow-along companion though, since she has the power to reach through the fabric of space and time, but exactly how that will work is anyone’s guess. The game is far removed from the events of Rapture, with no Adam or Big Daddies to worry about, but Levine won’t confirm if and how the games are linked. Once everyone has worn out Skyrim, this is the game they will be moving on to for single player storytelling – something Irrational Games are known for.

Syndicate – February 24

The result of a genetic splicing experiment between Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Crysis 2, Syndicate could be the near-future set game of the year. In 2069 the world is controlled by corporations and business, and in the game, a re-boot of a 1993 strategy game in little more than name, you work for a syndicate – which the world is comprised of – and go around carrying out contract killings and other missions to protect the company. The real intriguing point is the Dart 6 chip, which allows you to hack into enemies and control them, causing them to shoot themselves or tell you everything you need to know, as well as more combat-based hacks, such as redirecting projectiles. The big feature is four-player coop, surely a standard in a squad-based game like this, and there are plenty of powered-up-hacker scenarios you can imagine being great fun with a few friends. The competitive multiplayer won’t hurt either.

What, no Halo 4?

That’s right, we aren’t too excited about Halo 4. It may be the game that made the Xbox, but that was a decade ago now, and we are begging for some new innovation. It might be that new studio 343 can come up with some fresh new ideas to re-invigorate the series, but for now it’s a franchise which is struggling to remain relevant, thought the multiplayer matchmaking is still something to be envied – DICE take note.

Stay tuned for more gaming news in the coming week.

James Michael Parry

Believing the hype – Part 2: Most anticipated albums of 2012 | This Is Entertainment

In part two of our excitement-building series of articles, we turn to the ever-varied world of music. Prepare yourselves as This Is Entertainment brings you five CDs from five fantastic artists, which you really should be physically unable to wait to buy (/illegally download*).

ImageFeeder – Generation Freakshow (26 March)

The kings of British mainstream rock, this release marks the trio’s eighth studio album. To have been going strong, admittedly with varying levels of chart exposure, since 1991 is no mean feat for a band in this day and age. The fact that the band have name-checked classic release Yesterday Went Too Soon as an influence is a very good sign, placing the album somewhere between the energetic rock of the album and the more radio-friendly Comfort in Sound. The fanbase will stick with them no matter how it turns out, but since the group had a back-to-basics release with 2010’s Renegades, it’s likely this album will give a single or two which will make its way to the airwaves, which is where Feeder truly shine. As always with the band this won’t just be ‘more of the same’, and lead single ‘Borders’ gives us some idea of where the style is pitched as well.

ImageMuse – The 2nd Law (September/October)

After a stellar performance as 2011’s Reading and Leeds festivals – quite literally with a complete run-through of their rock opera crown jewel Origin of Symmetry – Muse show no signs of slowing down. Countless Best Live Act awards have been thrown their way over the years, despite frontman Matt Bellamy’s notorious shyness on stage, as well as wins for their recorded material even as recently as last album The Resistance. Of course, this is with good reason, the last album saw a departure from the rocky side to embrace the piano, will Matt throw out some more killer riffs which rival the likes of ‘Knights of Cydonia’ and ‘Citizen Erased’ with this latest release? If bassist Chris Wolstenholme is to be believed, the new album will be “radically different” from previous releases. Whatever form it takes, it will be sure to be something magical and certainly an experience not to be missed.

Matchbox Twenty (TBC)

A band which refuses to take the UK charts by storm despite acousto-rock perfection, Matchbox Twenty have been treading water for a while now, with their last full album, More than you think you are, first on sale back in 2004. Since then the band have released a greatest hits complete with new tracks, and lead singer Rob Thomas has released two solo albums. With Thomas clearly the driving force in the group, having written all the songs up to the new tunes on their greatest hits compilation, it’s fair to take his latest solo release, cradlesong, as an example of where the groups sound might progress to. So far the news is that recording has been done, even the tracklist has been tweeted by the band, but there is still no solid release date. Thomas has been keen to stress a mantra of “getting it right”, since he feels the band are now beginning to get on in years – “Realistically, how many more times do we get? So we’re going to really make this record the one we want it to be.” With Thomas’ singwriting still on board it’s hard to see how this could go wrong. The band’s first collaborative single – ‘How far we’ve come’ – was the most upbeat and catchy song of their career, which can only bode well for more tunes put together as a unit.

Enter Shikari – A Flash Flood Of Colour (16 January)

Just days to go before another injection of British hardcore. The band have been releasing one-off tracks for a couple of years since second, and far superior, album Common Dreads. This up trend is relentless, with the band’s subsequent releases ‘Destabilize’ and ‘Quelle Surprise’ filled with passion and plenty of noise. The teaser posted on the band’s YouTube channel hints at an album filled with a mixture of melodic hardcore and heavy screamo, with plenty of keyboards and killer riffs thrown in for good measure. Undoubtedly the most original band to come out of the UK for a while, this group is something to be proud of. The blend of catchiness with stop-start electronica sections carries through from their first hit ‘Sorry, you’re not a winner’, and while occasionally a bit much all in one go, the band command attention on the stage. All signs point to this power extending to their latest CD as well.

Lostprophets – Weapons (2 April)

A band which undeniably Welsh from the second you see them take to the stage, it’s remarkable how they manage to mask even their British-ness in their recorded releases. After a severely delayed fourth album, Betrayed, the band are looking to claw back platinum sales with this release, last achieved with second album Start Something. The first single from the album, ‘Better of Dead’, is a more rap-influenced tune than fans might be used to, achieving a sound closer to Linkin Park at their height, but still full with plenty of rock might. With their last effort proving a tad inconsistent, this album should hopefully land right on the mark with all the tracks delivering what fans have come to expect – rock with attitude.

The inevitable comeback album:
The Offspring (TBC) – After a fantastically received performance at Reading and Leeds, The Offspring deserve to reclaim the punk rock crown. The band are often imitated and have diminished over the years to join Green Day in American punk’s has-beens. With chief song writers Dexter Holland and Noodles still in the line-up, there’s no excuse for them coming up with something irresistible. Since they went into the studio again last September to finish up a brand new CD, 2012 could well be their year. It’s been four years now since their last album, and they are far from the heights of Conspiracy of one, but the time is right for them to remind us what they can do.

*Illegal downloads are bad, don’t try this at home kids

James Michael Parry

Believing the Hype – Part 1: Most Antipated Films of 2012 | This Is Entertainment

With the excitement of New Year over and done with and the daily grind of work and school already kicking in, it’s time to think about what’s worth getting excited about in 2012. Sure there’s some sort of Olympics and a European football tournament, and even the end of the world (perhaps), but the really interesting stuff comes in the form of our daily distractions of film, music and computer games.

So, in order to kick the hype machine into gear, This Is Entertainment presents a series of articles highlighting the top five most anticipated from the world of film, music and Xbox games, beginning with the silverscreen:

made by Ryan LuckooThe Dark Knight Rises 20 July

Christian Bale returns (slightly higher than before) for the conclusion of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. This time around it’s a very Inception-inspired affair with Tom Hardy taking the role of big bad terrorist Bane and Joseph Gordon-Levitt joining the team as Batman’s new helper beat cop John Blake. The exciting thing about the premise is that the film is set eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, when the Caped Crusader took the fall for Harvey Dent’s killing spree. With Nolan at the helm, and several blockbusters under his belt, there’s little chance of the team dropping the ball, and with promise of antics from Catwoman, courtesy of Anne Hathaway, this is a serious contender for big hit of the summer.

The Avengers27 April

Another entry in the ‘Year of the superhero’, and this is certainly the big one in terms of numbers of heroes involved. Thor, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Hawkeye, Black Widow and of course the top man Captain America all thrown together in one action-packed adrenaline ride – sound appealing? The balance of personalities will be key, especially with Robert Downey Jr. threatening to steal the show as king of swagger Tony Stark. Writing duties come from Zak Penn (X-men 2, X-men 3 and The Incredible Hulk) and Joss Whedon (Firefly, Serenity and Buffy the Vampire Slayer), undoubtedly an impressive pedigree, and with Whedon taking directing duties as well he’ll be sure their story gets realised with all the style and humour it deserves.

made by RNK Fan ArtSkyfall26 October

Bond is finally back. After a four year absence Daniel Craig picks up the Walther PPK again to protect the people of Britain, and this time it’s in a story with the least links to the Fleming-verse, since Skyfall is a the first film not to be in any way based on one of the Bond creator’s stories. Judy Dench is back as M, and Naomi Harris is on Bond girl duty, in a story which delves into M’s past as it “comes back to haunt her”. With long-running relationships to be tested, it could prove to be the most personal story since 1994’s Goldeneye. As ever the story is being kept fairly under wraps, but don’t expect to see a return of the ‘Quantum’ organisation, although the style is unlikely to stray far from the ‘new’ Bond formula.

The Hobbit14 December

Before the story told in arguably the most successful trilogy of the 00s, there was Bilbo Baggins, dwarves and a very large dragon. In print a more child-friendly tale than The Lord of the Rings, but on screen Peter Jackson is creating a story on his usual epic scale. Martin Freeman is Bilbo Baggins, and was so wanted by Jackson that he scheduled in a break in shooting for Freeman to reprise his role as Watson in the Stephen Moffat’s sublime Sherlock. Sir Ian McKellen leads the band of dwarves, filled with well-known names in its own right, on their quest, as they are re-united with plenty of other familiar faces from the proceeding films (which are actually set afterwards, just to be confusing). For those with a thirst for fantasy will have no better journey than this in 2012.

The Amazing Spider-Man4 July

In the other side of the big superhero face-off, the return of Spider-Man sees us going back to the beginning (again) with The Social Network star Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker. This reboot, now a groan-inducingly familiar term, focuses on Peter Parker’s high school years, so no Daily Bugle or sideline in pizza delivery. Marc Webb is the aptly named director of the flick, known previously for (500) Days of Summer, has a background in music videos. Webb put together numerous micro-films in the past decade for the likes of Green Day, Good Charlotte, AFI, My Chemical Romance, 3 Doors Down, Maroon 5 and Yellowcard, which might result in a particularly poignant use of music for Spidey. The supporting cast includes Emma Stone, as love interest Gwen Stacy, and Rhys Ifans as Doctor Curt Connors, the unfortunate scientist who, after an inevitable accident, becomes Spider-Man’s nemesis The Lizard. It may be a story we’ve seen before in Sam Raimi’s 2002 film, and certainly there is a lot to live up to for Garfield in Tobey McGuire’s performance, but Webb has everything to prove with what is only his second feature length picture – plus there isn’t a goblin in sight.

Plus: Under the Radar – Keep an eye on Prometheus, Ridley Scott’s sort-of Alien prequel set in the same universe, expect the same chill-factor as you get from watching the original alone in the dark and a massively ambitious project all round.

Check back soon for the next instalment looking at the most anticipated albums of the year.

James Michael Parry