When I listen to the teenage-friendly music of today (yes, this is me complaining about “kids today”), I’m so confused by that generation’s musical aesthetic, one almost entirely socialized and educated through a self-absorbed Web 2.0 culture. It shows in Attack Attack!’s This Means War, a deluge of whining that’s lyrically incomprehensible and becomes sonically dull after one song.
The Ohio metalcore band is my flashpoint of my confusion about teenage culture du jour. This Means War screams implicit messages of urgency, rebellion, and angst. Hell, it has mostly screaming vocals. “This is where our suburban youth is today!” it seems to exclaim. But is it? The four-piece band is from the Columbus suburb of Westerville (that checks out) and tons of teens show up to their shows, moshing, kicking and thrashing their little Hot Topic clothing-decked bodies about. Okay, so, This Means War would indicate, they resent certain people in their lives (parents, friends, lovers). Cool. “I’ve tried for so hard for so long! And I think it’s hopeless!” vocalist Caleb Shomo screams on “The Reality”, as if mining Tumblr’s all-caps teen rantings for lyrics. “Cool story, bro,” even.
But what are these kids looking for in music? For all the sound and fury, what does it signify? Nothing? Apparently, some of them are looking for sweet riffs and a tuneful venting of aggression, which Attack Attack! has in spades on This Means War. It’s not at all different from the model of hard rock and heavy metal in the ‘80s and what the band does isn’t all that different from, say, hair metal. It just screams, whines and wears all black. One stand out? Guitarist Andrew Whiting’s totally sweet guitar tone, which recalls Swedish metal band Meshuggah, encouragingly, but only in the most superficial of ways.
One element of This Means War that is commendable is the electronica flourishes (I note dubstep, trance, house and ambient) that Shomo, who also mans keyboards and electronics for the band, throws into the band’s chugga-chugga monotony. It’s pretty much the only sonic stamp that separates itself from other members of metalcore’s pit-dancing pack. Otherwise, it’s pretty much same shit, different day.
Essential Tracks: n/a