St. Albans, UK genre-benders Enter Shikari released their newest album, Nothing is True & Everything is Possible, on April 17 via SO Recordings. The album is a follow up to 2017’s The Spark and the summer 2019 single Stop the Clocks. Now that Nothing is True is in the hands (or ears, rather) of listeners all over the globe, one might speculate that Enter Shikari did just that; for the most part, anyway.
Nothing is True is chock full of nostalgic sounds and references that would put a smile on any long-time Shikari fan. The synthesizers during the pre-chorus of “Crossing the Rubicon,” as vocalist Rou Reynolds belts the line “now we can’t turn back, it’s labyrinth,” is a cheeky nod to the classic track “Labyrinth” off the band’s debut LP Take to the Skies. Not to mention the short but oh-so-sweet interlude track “Reprise 3,” which revives the iconic Shikari war cry: “And still we will be here!” “Reprise 3” serves as a very appropriate segway into the single “T.I.N.A,” which begins with a pounding synth melody reminiscent of 2015’s The Mindsweep. Other tracks such “Marionettes,” “modern living…,” and “apøcaholics anonymous (main theme in B minor)” bring back the mean dubstep and drum-’n’-bass stylings heard on 2012’s A Flash Flood of Colour; tracks such as “the pressure’s on.” and “satellites* *” certainly wouldn’t sound out of place on The Spark.
However, if you’re a fan of the crushing breakdowns, brutal screams, and downbeat-driven metal that Enter Shikari has delivered over the years, you won’t find it on Nothing is True & Everything is Possible. This record certainly succeeds in reprising many of the sounds, themes, and emotions Enter Shikari has conveyed with their music over the years; but the more metal-centric aspects of their work are rather underrepresented on Nothing is True. It simply doesn’t feel like the all-encompassing smorgasbord of genres Shikari implied it would be.
However, the innovation on this record in terms of songwriting and musicianship, in conjuncture with the abundant social commentary within the lyrics, is enough make its lack of early-2010’s melodic hardcore virtually irrelevant.
Nothing is True offers a variety of orchestral and horn-driven tunes that push Enter Shikari into a branch of their musical identity that, until now, has only been explored relatively lightly. Songs of Shikari’s past such as “Torn Apart” and “An Ode to Lost Jigsaw Pieces,” and even older tracks such as “Fanfare for the Conscious Man” and “Jonny Sniper” have certainly gotten their hands dirty in terms of horn sections and orchestral arrangements, but Nothing is True is the first time we’re seeing the band use this genres as the main driving force behind songs. “Waltzing Off the Face of the Earth (I. Crescendo)” is a (you guessed it) waltzed orchestral tune that wouldn’t even sound out of place on Panic! At the Disco’s 2006 debut A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out. The track builds to this pounding tune sprinkled with guitars and electronics chugging to the beat of the waltz. “Elegy for Extinction” is a grandiose, moving orchestral piece composed by vocalist Rou Reynolds.
While the orchestral arrangements can sound lush, Nothing is True directly and unapologetically confronts the harsh realities of the world we are currently living in. This is not a necessarily new thing for Enter Shikari, as they’ve never been afraid to get political and take stands, but it is undoubtedly one of the things that gives their music cultural significance. The first installment of “Waltzing” drops the name of the record in its lyrics, and it becomes clear what this record is all about: the era of misinformation. As Reynolds callously calls out climate denial, the Flat Earth movement, and America’s gun violence issue in a not-so-subtle fashion, “Waltzing” is one of Shikari’s most politically provocative tracks to date. “satellites* *” is an anthemic tune geared towards LGBTQ rights: “Now online they discuss whether I exist, and in
the courts they decide who I can kiss.” “modern living…” is a commentary on the culture of social media, and how it can foster anxiety and depression: “How can you never be nervous? / On every face a filter, masking weakness, masking woe.” “We’re apocaholics,” Reynolds chants, cheekily combining the words “apocalypse” and “alcoholics” to allude to the nihilistic nature of today’s youth.
Nothing is True & Everything is Possible has quite possibly the most powerful ending to any Enter Shikari record, which is ironic because it has probably the most underwhelming start. “Waltzing Off the Face of the Earth (II. Piangelove)” is full of ethereal orchestral sounds and a soft, cleaned-toned guitar that drones on and on, signaling the end of yet another one of Enter Shikari’s musical journeys. While “The Great Unknown” is an excellent song to open the record with, it simply doesn’t go off with the bang that Shikari records of years past all seem to have in common.
Overall, Nothing is True is another amazing album under Enter Shikari’s belt. The band currently has a UK tour lined up for November, provided COVID-19 doesn’t have other plans. Nothing is True & Everything is Possible is now available on all major streaming platforms. Vinyls, CDs, and even cassette tapes are available through the band’s website.