Editor's Rating

Have a listen to: 'Wolves in the Walls'

Rating out of 10

Annisokay – Enigmatic Smile

Release Date: 23rd March 2015
SPV / Long Branch Records
Amazon: http://amzn.to/1aJH7et
iTunes: http://apple.co/1FR5Wyu

German 5 –piece metalcore outfit Annisokay‘s latest release ‘Enigmatic Smile‘ initially seems pretty much business as usual for the synth-fused quintet. They infuse melodic electronic tones with a down-tuned rhythmic guitar attack. These contrasting tones are complimented with the low, rumbling screams from Dave Grunewald and the soaring vocal harmonies from Christoph Wieczorek. Upon initial listening, this was reminiscent of the vocal to-and-fro of bands like Atreyu and Funeral for a Friend that spearheaded the entire emo and post-hardcore styles of the early 2000’s, but upon closer inspection the instruments are arranged in a much more complimentary way than just ‘Heavy parts = shout and soft parts = sing’ and this gives them a much more mature sound than the other hundreds of ‘name the verb’ metalcore bands out there.

I am not going to pretend to be a huge fan of the band, they were barely on my radar until this album landed in front of me and, to be honest, this is no longer the type of music I chose to listen to. But I will admit that Enigmatic Smile did catch my attention from the outset. The guitars sound massive on the album and they are complimented by extremely catchy synth parts.

The album starts as it means to carry on with the huge ‘Carry Me Away’. While it’s a solid opener I feel this is the beginning of an upwards curve and as the album continues the auditory assault increases in intensity, only letting up for brief (almost operatic) interludes.

‘Wolves in the Walls’ picks up the catchy vocal hooks that are hinted at in the opening track, and follows them up with pounding guitar riffs. Listening to the album until this point I found myself drawing mental comparisons with the likes of Devil Sold His Soul and Still Remains, both of whom manage to infuse ambient sounds with metal to great success.

‘Life Cycles’ seems to point in a different direction than the rest of the album and seems to remove a lot of the metal aspects of the music that I had been enjoying so far. While I have a lot of respect for artists who try something different and push themselves in another direction, this particular track just ends up appearing weak in comparison to the rest of the album. This is soon remedied though with ‘Fame picking up with almost hardcore punk sounding drums re builds the pace.

What Is Left‘ completely caught me off guard. This track starts with a guitar riff that sounded something like a Yellowcard single and the entire track had a very pop-punk vibe to it and seemed far removed from the atmospheric metal that the rest of the album had been displaying. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, I enjoyed the track but it didn’t fit as an album closer, at least not for this album.

Annisokay really surprised me. I wasn’t ready to enjoy it as much as I did. As I mentioned previously I am not a usual fan of the genre, but I really urge cynics such as myself to give it a listen. Enigmatic Smile is diverse, catchy and well written. If you are a fan of the band I recommend you get yourself a copy immediately as the album has been out since 23rd March. This album sounds like a band searching for their direction, and I’m very interested to hear what that is going to be.