REVIEW: Attack Attack! – This Means War


Artist: Attack Attack!
Album: This Means War
Genre: Metalcore
Label: Rise Records

Listening to this album is likely to leave you bruised. Twice over. Once for all the incandescent hatred that seems to be flying amongst the fanbase over ‘old’ and ‘new’ Attack Attack, and again for the sheer ferocity of it all. Regardless of your thoughts on the band thus far, This Is War should be acknowledged as a fine album. It’s visceral, urgent, and compelling, powered by a passion and intensity so deep-rooted as to be tangible. The unending riffs, ‘chugs,’ and raw energy does inevitably tend to sound repetitious after a time, but even if the whole thing were one continuous and very belligerent song it’d still be pretty awesome.

The Ohio metalcore outfit’s third full-length explodes into life with “The Revolution,” a track with breakdowns so fierce they could bore a hole in you. It seems, initially, to be a bit shapeless and all over the place, but one can warm to it surprisingly easily as it develops – the catchy vocal lines in the chorus doing much to endear. It slithers away after four minutes of heated screaming, followed by “The Betrayal.” Indeed, every track on this album begins with ‘the,’ a nicely mature evolution in song naming for a band whose back catalogue includes titles like “Sexual Man Chocolate.” “The Betrayal” packs the same fierce punch, but it comes with melody attached, something a little fairer amidst the reckless and powerful music. There’s an emotive sharpness to the verse, implying hidden depths, and heightened by the electronic elements added to soften the chorus. It’s still as fiercely charged as ever, but the clean singing and melody give it a more aesthetic quality. This in turn segues seamlessly into “The Hopeless,” which features a vociferous, clean-singing chorus that aches with desperation and vigor. It’s like a chunk of gravelly solemnity in the midst of all the white heat on show and suits the song’s pomp perfectly.

“The Reality” has a palpable electricity coursing throughout. It’s similar to the two tracks that immediately precede it in that the cleaner vocal elements create a vague undercurrent of pathos. This in turn evokes something deeper and more illusory, creating a finely sketched, enigmatic song that’s far more resonant than its opening, bruising breakdowns might imply. As the album progresses, it reaches a certain zenith in “The Wretched,” which throws an unsuspecting piano into the stampede. It, surprisingly, holds its own, aided and abetted by the freewheeling synth and puts a spirited classical twist on things. It’s a comedown in energy and ferocity but no less passionate, as evidenced by the ambitious vocal refrains and instrumental swells near the end.

After this sprawling effort, “The Family” revives the malevolent bravado that informed the earlier tracks. There’s something quite rhythmic about it, making it that much more distinctive than the others – the gang vocals lend it an oddly sinister camaraderie but in turn make for a much more compelling song. The intensity of the singing seems to power the rushing music, the blank solemnity with which the backing vocals are delivered creating a gathering darkness that adds greatly to its appeal. “The Confrontation” gels rigorous verse with a more stripped back chorus, though it hardly pauses for breath. The chorus is as striking as it is sublimely realized – there’s no compromise on the sharpness of the sound, but the clean vocals provide a more heartened commentary on the issues at hand.

Considering the heady, frenetic drive that’s powered much of This Means War, “The Eradication” is almost disappointing as a final track. Perhaps they finally ran out of steam, or else the band decided that a comedown was in order to lull you back into reality. This is not to imply it’s any less impressive in sound, but it’s definitely not in fifth gear. There’s something missing and this makes it enjoyable as opposed to amazing, but it’s an adequate ending.

This Means War easily lives up to its name in ambition and scope – from the outset, it’s determined to set a radical, vociferous agenda and it pushes itself to hitherto unexplored heights. It’s excellently made and a testimony to the band’s growth, though its sound may be a little dramatic for older listeners. Nonetheless, give the whole thing a spin before you decide you hate it (if you are so inclined) – it lends itself to repeated listens, and will leave a decisive impression one way or another.

SCORE: 8/10
Review written by Grace Duffy

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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  • 8 out of 10? Is this for real? The album is the worse thing I’ve ever heard since St Anger by Metallica released back in 2003.

  • Dprueter

    you, my friend, are a dumbass

  • lawls

  • For pointing out a really crappy album that has received most 2 out of 5 ratings from every other online publication except this site which by five star rating standards rated this a 4 out of 5?

    All of the songs sound the same. You have no taste in music if you think this album is great, all they did was listen to a whole bunch of Periphery and Meshuggah albums and then were probably like, “Our next album will be solely djent riffing man, people will love it and to show we’re really brutal, we’ll use 8-string guitars”

    I used to be able to tolerate this band. But their blatant disregard for not wanting nor trying to evolve their sound makes me resent them. Writing songs based around drop G djent riffs does not mean you’ve evolved whatsoever.

    This is obviously an extremely biased review and it wouldn’t surprise me if someone from Attack Attack! wrote it. This site has lost all credibility for posting this.

    Seriously though, Google what other people have rated and said about this band. This review says nothing about why the album gets an 8 out of 10 rating, back it up if the album is so good.

    If Caleb Shomo from Attack Attack! somehow comes across this comment I want him to know one thing: Just because you have a home recording studio does not make you a professional the production on this blows and if your band survives another album get Joey back at least he knows what he is doing.

    So go ahead, insult me or whatever it is fans of this band and album will do ignoring my question completely.

  • Anonymous

    Hahaha, you have WAY to much time on your hands, sir. So far, everything I’ve heard from this album, sounds excellent. Maybe you should go troll somewhere else, I hear YouTube videos of Justin Bieber are the perfect place for that. 

  • Heather

    You got your songs mixed up. The Motivation has the piano intro and you left you The Abduction…

  • No members of Attack Attack! work for Under The Gun Review.

    I’d like to point out that Grace Duffy has the same right to an opinion as you do. Getting bent out of shape over a piece of online journalism isn’t benefiting anyone. Grace is an experienced reviewer. It’s rare that she gives such positive reviews, so she must have found something in this that you didn’t. It’s as simple as that.

  • Every song sounds the same. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but holy shit, I couldn’t disagree with yours more. I’m a huge Attack Attack! fan, but every damn song sounds like chug chug guitars, choked screaming and decent but cliche vocals. To me, this is the 4th Indiana Jones of Attack Attack! albums. I loved the ones before it, but this one was so damn generic and unlike what I expect that I don’t even want to bother with the next one.

  • Grace

    “Bruising” indeed.

    Dwayne, while I appreciate your taking the time to write paragraph after paragraph expressing your distaste, I would like to point out that reviews are subjective and as such, googling for other people’s opinions is not how to write one. It’s the writer’s opinion and it shouldn’t be influenced by what everyone else thinks is good or bad. There is no general consensus, just views that are more popular than others, and if more people hate this than like it so be it. I still enjoyed it.

    Further, and given you’ve mentioned Caleb Shomo in your comment, why not actually make your voice heard and send the band your thoughts? They’re the ones in a position to do something about their music, should they be so inclined, and lambasting this site for taking a view contrary to yours isn’t exactly mature or effective.

    Failing all this, just don’t listen to the album if it irritates you this much.

  • Great post We enjoy to reading this wonderful information Thanks

  • Ryankyler1

    horrible album they completely changed genres leaving must of their old fans stranded

  • Guest

    The band changed for the better. They were too generic and boring before. They’ve found their style with this album, and they need to keep it up. And I don’t know what everyone is listening to, but I think the songs have just enough independent style and sound to keep me coming back.

  • ohhhmittenzzzzzz

    So if you don’t like it, then you’re not a fan anymore. Deal with it.

  • Peter

    I was so disappointed with this album.  It sounds like they threw it together in garage and the only song I can bear to listen through entirely is their single “The Motivation”.  There was little to no clean vocals, which is Calebs only good musical calling now, seeing as how his screaming vocals have suffered.  Every lyric sounds like it was written by a little 12 year old boy who cuts himself.  I’m sorry but you guys need to hop into the studio and try to redeem yourselves.  P.S: Sexual Man Chocolate is an intense name, The Betrayal however, sounds incredibly stupid.

  • Angela

    This album’s repetition is making me cringe. I just bared through The Revolution, and decided that for now all I can do willingly is preview the rest of the album by skimming through each of the other tracks. Doing this quickly made me realize that practically every song progresses the same way and begs for variety amongst the others. Also, the titles remind me so much of those on The Hollow by Memphis May Fire.
    Hopefully I’ll be able to push myself to hear This Means War in its entirety at some point in the future. As for now, AA’s past work sounds like a much better option.

  • Guest

    Enter Shikari’s album destroyed this, nothing like genuine originality.

  • Walkingdisaster91

    best album by them to date… of mice and men is still winning by far tho. better lyrics, better sound, better everything

  • Seanisviolence

    Can we please stop comparing them? They are two very different bands. Yes Austin used to be in AA, get over it. Also Of mice and men had help with that record aka Their producer. This was all Attack Attack for everything, no label say or input.

  • Tamu

    meh, i’ll listen to Of Mice & Men instead

  • Chunchunchun

    Yup, word has it that Joey Sturgis actually wrote a lot of The Flood during pre-prod. This is an awesome album to come with no professional help whatsoever and having been produced by someone who’s only 19…