The term “groundbreaking” is used a bit too often when it comes to describing music. Not all music needs to truly invent the wheel to be considered good – and there’s nothing wrong with putting a new spin on old tricks, metaphorically speaking.
Groundbreaking, however, is certainly a word that describes Enter Shikari quite well. What other band in the scene can you say has a football club (St Albans City, the band’s hometown) who the band sponsors on their kits? And the club is in the 6th tier of English football (the National League South), and they’ve existed for over 100 years. With multiple Top 10 albums in the UK and a massive following in the UK and Europe, the band’s blend of electronic and post-hardcore influences have lasted much longer than the bands they came to influence.
And influence, they certainly have. Even early on in their career (and before 2007’s Take To The Skies helped the band take flight), the band’s merging of post-hardcore and electronic influences was something not many bands had tried before. Seriously, if you listen to the band’s earliest material (“Mothership”, in particular), Enter Shikari certainly helped bring trance influences to the post-hardcore and metalcore scenes. Arriving around the peak of MySpace’s popularity helped Enter Shikari gain a huge amount of early supporters as their hype continued to build, and despite playing huge arenas in the UK now, their success has been years of hard work and determination. This even helped the band land on the Madden 2008 soundtrack (in the days before microtransactions and no competition made a soundtrack appearance in the game a really big deal).
Enter Shikari’s overall sound is all over the place – they definitely have a chameleonic approach to creating music. Notably, Enter Shikari also has a prominent drum and bass component to their sound. Those influences are riddled all throughout their discography, from songs like “Step Up” and “Solidarity” off their Common Dreads album to even their newest material. All of these influences are key to making Enter Shikari particularly difficult to label, and they wouldn’t have it any other way. No two ES songs are ever quite the same.
DIY ethics and attitude have always been at the core of Shikari’s ethos, as well. With a little humor added in, they’ve never been afraid to discuss our reliance on oil (“Arguing With Thermometers”) or the way the music industry often chews and spits bands out (“Warm Smiles Do Not Make You Welcome Here”), proving music can indeed serve as a conduit for real change. Much like their predecessors and biggest influences like Refused (who were one of the first to combine electronica, punk, and hardcore influences with messages of social change), Enter Shikari has inspired a new generation to do just the same – with a keen sense of melodic hooks, too. These hooks are keenly injected into slower songs like “Adieu” (one that still brings a tear to anyone’s eye), while on their iconic “Sorry, You’re Not A Winner” track, these hooks are juxtaposed with mosh-inducing guitar riffs (and the staple *clap clap clap*).
Proving that music can serve as a springboard for new ideas as well as a discussion and dissection of topics that really matter, it’s difficult not to listen to Enter Shikari and be inspired. Whether it’s the band’s influential sound or their tackling of topics like climate change and a general overarching theme of community, there’s plenty of bands that will continue to follow in their footsteps. And that’s something more than worth celebrating – in uncertain times, Enter Shikari are consistent.