From the release of single ‘Unaware’ it was clear that Annisokay are experimenting with their genre. From the inclusion of cut-up vocals to the darker message of individuals so ‘pure and rare slowly bleeding out unaware’. After mixed reviews from their previous release ‘Devil May Care’ the question still remains apparent, where are Annisokay going with this new release?

Listening to this album, there are themes that will jump out and shock you. ‘Fully Automatic’, dealing with the war on gun crime and school shootings is one of them. The message isn’t brutally obvious, but instead ingrained well into the musicality of the track, suddenly making you aware of the theme. An idea somewhat emerging in all tracks, focusing on loneliness, war, violence, hatred and entrapment, an ever-increasing mix of negatives hindering out society. Yet, a clever yet subtle inclusion the post-hardcore outfit do bring is parallels across the album. Parallels of loneliness echo throughout ‘Coma Blue’ and its counterpart ‘End of The World’, whereas the same track ‘End of The World’ can also be interpreted to have links to previous album ‘Devil May Care’s final track ‘The Last Planet’. Even in terms of videos, the impactful message etched into ‘Fully Automatic’ hiding little references to violence with ‘It’s been a while since I’ve held a gun’ also parallels with the shocking shooter video for ‘Coma Blue’. On the other hand, through the parallels of the album come the contrasts, which evoke just as much impact as the parallels. ‘Innocence Was Here’ is perhaps one of the most confusing tracks of the record, evoking a ballad style piano track about entrapment covered by the heavy punching brutality of the leading guitar track. This is a song that when truly listening to is hard to wrap your head around, but in terms of the thematic album, works perfectly in favour of the band.

Annisokay are clearly very clever in their creation of music, even if at times this may appear subtle. Exploring and evolving their sound to a greater level is apparent through ‘Arms’, as the post-hardcore style followed for many years has slowly morphed to develop into a more experimental synth infused idea. ‘Humanophobia’ gives a recurring, intricately broken style to explore the broken population that has become of us whereas ‘One Second’, through the nuanced medium of Dave Grunwald’s unclean shouts, shows a massive development of style, yet the use of eerie synths instead adds an uncomfortable atmosphere around the daunting chorus of the track with – time is limited and this track is not. meant to make you comfortable. Yet, at the same time, it’s the way the group cleverly manipulate simplicity in the bridges of their song to set a tone. Stripping back the layers of a track into the bridge section is risky, but well done, leaving listeners forced to listen to the message being spoken, such as in ‘Sea of Trees’, stripped back to nothing but Christoph Wieczorek’s clean vocals and a slight synth track, leaving you to truly hear the words behind the track, not hidden behind the heavy musicality.

However, there is one track on this album that stands out perhaps for the wrong reasons. The group are experimenting, which is good, but following the album as a whole, ‘Private Paradise’ is a track that doesn’t fit. Despite the feature of Attila frontman Fronz, the rap styled track stands out in an unfitting way to the album. Perhaps a little more dabbling into the style of rap-metal is needed to bring this track forward. Even with an evolving genre, some aspects do sink ever so slightly into the back. ‘Escalators’ is once again spreading the message Annisokay want to portray, yet just falls short of the rest of the album, falling under and being overshadowed by the other standout songs.

Yet, through the expanding evolution of the bands style, remnants of their rooted influence are still sustained within the tracks. ‘Good Stories’ from the subtler faded instrumentals, lyrical and vocal style brings a reminiscence of the bands second studio release ‘Enigmatic Smile’. Yet, one interesting input the band have brought through all four albums is the style of the closing track. Similarly to each other finale tracks, ‘Locked In, Locked Out’ emphasises a dramatic, theatrical approach, one that ends the album in a satisfying way. Is it the most complex song of the album? No, but that’s what helps it stand out. Not too simple, not too complicated but still manages to stand afloat and not get lost in the album.

Annisokay are not strangers to creating music, if anything, they have improved over the years and are still improving with every step. This album isn’t perfect, but perhaps it doesn’t need to be. With such haunting themes and the experimental approach to their sound, there could always be something that hinders the album. ‘Arms’ is a worthwhile release that despite its little blips, is one that should be heard as it is released into the scene.

Rating: 9/10

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