Enter Shikari – Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible (Album Review)

Winning accolades nearly since their very first day, the much-loved Enter Shikari are set to drop Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible on Friday, April 17th, 2020, via So Recordings and the band’s own Ambush Reality.

Formed in St. Albans, UK, in 1999, these rocking Brits rechristened themselves Enter Shikari in 2003, and made their studio debut in 2007 with Take to the Skies—that’s when the awards started rolling in from the likes of NME, Kerrang!, and more. Each additional release throughout the next decade—2009’s Common Dreads, 2012’s A Flash Flood of Colour, 2015’s The Mindsweep, and 2017’s The Spark—only served to bolster the band’s already impressive name. Understandably, over the past 17 years, the talented quartet has gained themselves a dedicated fan base thanks to their exceptional albums as well as touring alongside the likes of A Day to Remember, Architects, August Burns Red, and some bands that don’t start with “A,” as well.

As pioneers of Electronicore, but perhaps best known for their refusal to meet any genre standards, Enter Shikari—Rou Reynolds (Vocals, Electronics), Rory Clewlow (Guitars, Vocals), Chris Batten (Bass, Vocals), and Rob Rolfe (Drums, Vocals)—are beyond prepared to deliver their epic sixth studio disc, Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible. Their first album to be produced by Frontman Reynolds, the 15-track collection continues to embrace the band’s cross-genre sound, one that sees them offering political insight and sonic mayhem alongside personal reflection and string orchestration, with nearly everything in between. After all, everything is possible!

Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible opens to piano, winding its way into “THE GREAT UNKNOWN.” With its prophetic opening line (“Is this a new beginning or are we close to the end?”), the track offs from its piano intro and allows the band to build into massive sonic layers that race across the landscape of your senses, propelled by Reynolds’ infectious poetry. Danceable, catchy, intelligent, it opens a phenomenal collection on a high note. Then, like Caesar, they take their dread (existential or otherwise) with them as they continue to thump into “Crossing The Rubicon.” With Pop sensibilities and playful vocals from Reynolds, who flexes his range, the band lament our failures as a society while providing hope—because something’s got to give, right?

Unleashing sonic mayhem, “{ The Dreamer’s Hotel }” pairs sinister verses that echo the chaos of our modern world with infectious, finger-snapping choruses that will allow you to embrace your innermost creative dreams—as well as your superstar dance geek. A bizarre, experimental blend that only Enter Shikari could pull off with pizzazz, the track and its rose-colored, escapist push to continue to chase your imagination is an absolute high point on an album full of standouts.

A delicate waltz through the socio-political circus, “Waltzing off the Face of the Earth (I. Crescendo)” delivers the big reveal of the atrocities that have become commonplace throughout America (and much of the world) as we turn a blind eye and cry “fake news.” Certainly the message here is far more important than the music, but the track does allow the band to beautifully display their truly eclectic talents. As a suitable follow-up, Reynolds opens his arms wide to welcome the apocalypse as he launches his bandmates into “modern living….” Flexing those catchy Pop sensibilities, the quartet crafts an upbeat sing-along that flows flawlessly into “apøcaholics anonymøus (main theme in B minor).”

At just under two minutes, the track serves as a percussive and electronic amalgamation that stretches the gap into the lofty atmospherics of the straightforward “the pressure’s on.” Next, at under a minute, the piano-lad Sci-Fi vibes of “Reprise 3” prepare listeners for the dive into “T.I.N.A.” An acronym for “There Is No Alternative,” here the band explodes back into their multi-layered sonic assault, utilizing historic references to make it abundantly clear that, as much as we have achieved socially, technologically and politically, we have still failed to truly move beyond our past mistakes (“The present is the past that we cannot shed”).

Strings worthy of Tchaikovsky pussyfoot into “Elegy For Extinction,” a majestic and cinematic instrumental. If it feels shocking to find this on a Rock record, well, that’s the point! Meanwhile, for “Marionettes (I. The Discovery of Strings)” it’s perfectly appropriate to turn to brass, right? So, as Reynolds pays tribute to rising up and defying the master, they blend a trumpet into the triumphant mix before going bold with EDM beats to anchor a track that explores control—and pleads with the puppets to rise up. This story of revolution and redemption continues into the sinister stomp of “Marionettes (II. The Ascent),” which sees a world that has grown “mightier than our means to remake it.” There is always a way to correct the ills of the past (“truth hurts, now you know truth frees”).

Trumpets herald the angels for the comet-ride of “satellites* *.” The personal yin to its predecessor’s political yang, this is an interplanetary love meant to make you dance. Continuing with this energy, they dip their toes into a Ska Punk influence on the radio-ready “thē kĭñg” as the album draws to a finale. For this, they cycle back to those masterful string arrangements as the orchestra presents “Waltzing off the Face of the Earth (II. Piangevole).” A final dose of that ethereal, soul-cleansing tickle of the senses, eventually acoustic guitar takes over as Enter Shikari pays homage to all that has come before, creating an outro-overture in honor of Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible.

If there’s anyone listening, Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible is the manifesto for a new beginning, a step by step guide to processing our modern chaos, embracing our imaginations, and dreaming a better world into existence. An album that is not meant to be taken piecemeal, each of its songs is perfectly placed among the grand tale of a society that has tried and failed, and will continue to try and fail—though we, the little marionettes, must stop waiting for a savior and harness the power to do better. If we do not change our way of thinking, we’re signing our own death warrant.

Whereas other bands beat you over the head with their political views, Enter Shikari embed an urgency into their poetic lyrics that ask you to think, stop being a puppet, escape the chaos and groupthink, and just use your own mind to set yourself right. There are no party lines drawn, simply a collective society of humans who must do better. Their means of delivering this message is fairly simple: defy conformist genre standards and write intelligent tracks that, if you so choose to dive deeper, offer much more than their catchy surface value. In this, Enter Shikari mark themselves as the historians of the future: a band with no barriers, sonic or otherwise, who simply provide powerfully sophisticated sonic mania. For this, Cryptic Rock gives Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible 5 of 5 stars.


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