In short, This Means War adheres to a similar formula as the previous outings, combining down-tuned metalcore and guttural vocals with pop-tinged hooks and a liberal helping of electronic instrumentation.
That formula itself is enough for some to dismiss Attack Attack! out of hand without hearing a note; they’ve done it before, and with This Means War, they’ll do it again. Previously, there has been a valid argument for dismissing such naysayers as little more than knuckle-dragging morons who refuse to accept that metal must adapt and progress to truly prosper. Thing is, this time they’ve got it pretty much spot on.
This Means War is stale and predictable. The lack of imagination in prefixing each of the ten song titles with ‘The’ (‘The Betrayal,’ ‘The Hopeless.’ etc) is indicative of a similar lack of adventure and invention in the music itself. The brutal vocals are annoyingly whiny when they should be cranium crunching, while the previously joyous pop melodies utterly fail to shine in the way that made both earlier albums a lot more enjoyable than the widespread critical response would have you believe.
Heavy music needs to evolve. It absolutely should be changing and challenging. Watching metal music mutate and morph the way it has over the last couple of decades has been a pleasure for all but the most narrow-minded of fans. But it shouldn’t sound like this. Three albums in and Attack Attack! is tired.
Despite the criticism, the band has never struggled to sell albums and this one will please their adoring fans. Those fans should enjoy it while it lasts, because as much as Attack Attack! might mean war, this is more like Retreat Retreat!
(released January 17, 2012 on Rise Records)