Album Review: Annisokay – Arms

Release Date: August 17, 2018

German post-hardcore band Annisokay has always crafted songs uproarious songs featuring gritty vocals, hard edge guitars, and lots of aggression. They get heavier and harder for their fourth album, Arms.  Building on their hardcore sound, they push things further on their latest LP, while making some subtle changes to their sound and injecting a healthy dose of melody.

The band gets violent on the heavy hitting opener “Coma Blue.” The brutal, hard stomping music is a rush of adrenaline. It gets you pumped up with the abrasive sound and in your face attitude. It makes you want to mosh as soon as you hear chunky opening chords. There’s this great dynamic between Dave Grunewald’s growling vocals and Christoph Wieczorek’s clean singing. You get the best of both worlds: vicious screaming vocals and melodic singing.

That violent energy continues on “Unaware.” Its gritty guitars and pounding music instantly draws you in. Everything is pure chaos on the verses with Grunewald’s snarling vocals as if he’s ready to attack. But things calm down, if only for a little, during the chorus. Hearing Wieczorek sing “We’re all running, running, running/ We’re so pure, so rare/slowly bleeding out unaware” will be stuck in your head for days after one listen. This perfectly brings together their hard-hitting sound with melodic elements.

From there most of the songs follow the same formula. “Locked Out, Locked In,” anti-suicide anthem “Sea of Trees” and “End of the World” are solid, but sound too similar. They all feature sludgy guitars, lots of distortion, screaming and melodic vocals. They have great energy but don’t really grab your attention. The songs aren’t terrible; they’re just pretty forgettable.

What makes this album stand out from their previous efforts is their willingness to experiment with different styles. “Innocence Was Here” starts with a dancing piano before the furious guitar and drums come rushing in. Soft, pretty strings close the track making for an unexpected, yet intriguing listen.  Electronic elements can be heard on tracks like “Humanphobia” and “Escalators,” which puts a nice twist on their hardcore sound. The heavy, electronic-infused groove on “Fully Automatic” is irresistible and also gives off strong Linkin Park vibes.

Unfortunately, they miss the mark on the cringe-inducing “Private Paradise.” Featuring electronic loops and a trap sound, it’s awkward. While the vocals and the gritty music on the verses are solid, the trap beat is ill-fitting. The rapping during the bridge is even worse. You can applaud the band for trying something different, but not only does it not work, it doesn’t fit the album. It would’ve been better suited as a bonus track or a b-side.

Arms in another solid, heavy as hell album from Annisokay. They stay true to their hardcore roots, yet aren’t afraid to take risks. Mixing their aggressive sound with electronic, trap, and classical elements aren’t always successful, but it shows growth as a band. They’re at least willing to take a chance to keep things fresh. Not every song is a hit, but there are plenty of intense, brutal songs to keep longtime fans satiated.

Arms tracklist:
01. Coma Blue
02. Unaware
03. Good Stories
04. Fully Automatic
05. Sea of Trees
06. Innocence Was Here
07. Humanophobia
08. End of the World
09. Escalators
10. Private Paradise (feat. Chris Fronzak)
11. One Second
12. Locked Out, Locked In

 

Annisokay - Arms
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Ashley Perez Hollingsworth

Ashley Perez is a freelance music journalist based in Chicago. Her work has appeared on AXS, The Crypt 1331, Chicago Innerview, New City, The Millions, and Reality-Comics. She also runs her own music blog at Radio Not Found. Some of her favorite bands include Nirvana, The Cure, Muse, Marilyn Manson, and Green Day.

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