August 15, 2018 Annisokay – Arms (Album Review)
Formed in 2007 in Halle an der Saale, Germany, Metalcore quintet Annisokay (which you pronounce as “Ann Is Okay”) self-released their debut full-length album, The Lucid Dream[er], in 2012, though the collection would ultimately be re-released with German label SPV GmbH in 2014. Followed up by 2015’s Enigmatic Smile and 2016’s Devil May Care, both of which placed in the Top 100 on the German album charts, this new music continued to propel the band and their career skyward. Annisokay’s 4-track Michael Jackson cover-song EP, Annie Are You Okay?, certainly didn’t hurt their career, either. In fact, the band take their name from a twist on this line in the beloved classic “Smooth Criminal.”
Dedicated to a life of touring, the boys have shared stages with the likes of Silverstein, Parkway Drive, Boysetsfire, Deez Nuts, Bury Your Dead, Upon This Dawning, Eskimo Callboy, and many more. They’ve headlined Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine, and have a massive and ever-growing fanbase throughout Europe and the UK. So, what’s next for the talented Annisokay?
Well, that would be the band’s fourth full-length, Arms, which arrives Friday, August 17, 2018, thanks to SharpTone Records. For the 12-track offering, Annisokay – Vocalist Dave Grunewald, Vocalist/Guitarist Christoph Wieczorek, Guitarist Philipp Kretzschmar, Bassist Norbert Rose, and Drummer Nico Vaeen – have cast their net wide, drawing together a multitude of sounds and lyrical topics. Produced by the band’s own Wieczorek, a full-time producer in his own right, along with Benny Richter (Caliban, Moonspell), Arms looks to offer up intelligent, emotional lyrics alongside the band’s diverse approach to all things Melodic Metal.
This all funnels together to formulate an album that is Melodic Metal mayhem, the collection Arms. The album kicks off with “Coma Blue,” where sludgy, uproarious growls intermingled with some overall Djent-y-ness moves into some truly melodic, soaring vocals; the end result is a victorious-feeling, superbly catchy track that kicks off the album in style. Driving rocker “Unaware” follows this same formula: gritty, violent verses against melodic, sing-along choruses. Here, Annisokay speak of the “plastic life” that we all lead, blinders on as we go through every single day on automatic repeat, trying our hardest to never be authentic.
Blending together a myriad of synth-driven elements, the atmospheric “Good Stories” mixes it all up with angelic verses and grittier choruses, creating an intensely moody sonisphere. In fact, there is a Linkin Park influence here that is palpable and adds a wonderful touch to the entire production. Next, they shift toward some hot button issue inspired lyrics on “Fully Automatic,” where Annisokay muse, “It’s been a long time since the West was won.” A driving, thrumming rocker in the name of gun control, this moves the band perfectly into their next hot topic debate, on the melodic sway of the anti-suicide offering, “Sea of Trees.”
Beautiful piano waterfalls begin the introduction into “Innocence Was Here,” a somber, down-tempo rocker in the name of things lost and not found. Next, they go back to explosive, Djent-y moments for “Humanophobia,” a barreling onslaught with some fun, electronic elements that flows beautifully into the intermingling electronics and infectious melodies of the powerhouse plea “End of the World.” They go catchy, bopping rocker with edge for “Escalators,” before tackling atmospheric yet sludgy rap-rocker “Private Paradise,” which features Fronz from Attila, and points the finger at the problem (YOU).
They amp back up for the meandering, genre-crossing rocker “One Second,” then ultimately, they end on the heavy, pulsating notes of “Locked Out, Locked In.” Start to finish, Arms is an enjoyable ride, one that sounds great and yet still has the courage to discuss some of today’s hottest sociopolitical issues. Which means that there’s an intelligence to Annisokay, a band who are not going to turn a blind eye to the world around them.
If you need to stream something to get a taste for the band, check out “Good Stories.” If you are looking for a new-er band in the Metalcore genre, one who do that ‘mayhem meets melody’ thing beautifully, check out Annisokay and the entirety of Arms. The songs are infectious in sound with a diverse array of influences and approaches, all blending in hyperaware, intelligent lyrical commentary. What more can you ask for in today’s troubled times? Annie, you are okay! CrypticRock give Annisokay’s Arms 4 of 5 stars.