A few weeks ago, German melodic metalcore quintet Annisokay released their sophomore album Enigmatic Smile via Long Branch Records. Produced by Joey Sturgis and Will Putney (We Came as Romans, The Amity Affliction), the record is an eleven-track metalcore sensation, ideal for fans of Motionless in White, Attack Attack! and early Bring Me The Horizon.
Alongside frontman and screamer Dave Grunewald, the Leipzig band – named in response to the recurring “Annie are you okay?” lyric in Michael Jackson’s 1988 hit, ‘Smooth Criminal’ – consist of guitarist and vocalist Christoph Wieczorek, guitarist Philipp Kretzschmar, bassist Norbert Rose and drummer Daniel Hermann. Upon discussing the new record and the direction they took with production, the band said:
“As we had previously produced everything ourselves, we were cautious about having someone else tell us how to make our songs, songs that we’ve worked really hard on for a long time. Will and Joey each produced one half of the album – it was interesting to see how differently they work and what they bring to the table. Both of them have their own style which you can hear in the first and second half of ‘Enigmatic Smile’.
‘Carry Me Away’ is the album opener and the first single taken from the record. Kicking off with distorted riffs, the track bursts into an anthemic mix of melodic vocals, heavy screams and fast drum beats. It’s the kind of track you’d expect to hear as a follow up from Attack Attack!’s ‘Stick Stickly’. This sound continues throughout the next few tracks. ‘Snowblind’ is anthemic and heartfelt, the kind of song you’d expect from Framing Hanley, while ‘Naked City’ and ‘Panic Attack’ lean more towards the band’s heavier influences.
Reaching track five, ‘Wolves In The Walls’ is something different. The song begins with chanty vocals and blends into an emotional chorus. It’s probably one of the best tracks on the album – Wieczorek’s vocals are easily comparable to Gustav Wood of Young Guns, which works brilliantly with Annisokay’s heavy, melodic riffs. Right by its side is ‘Fragile Line’, equally impressive and marking the line between the two parts of the album.
These next five tracks take on a whole new sound, but still carry the heavy riffs and anthemic vocals from the first half. ‘Traveler’ begins heartfelt and eerie, smashing into a catchy, almost electronic-esque sound, similiar to the likes of Asking Alexandria. ‘Life Cycles’, on the other hand, is a softer, more vocal-focused ballad with echoing drum beats and enchanting riffs. ‘Fame’ breaks this new sounds for a minute, rushing back into heavier beats and stronger riffs, before the album ends. Closer ‘What Is Left’ is a beautiful track that sings “Time has drifted away / Oh, come on, could it be that hard / Will you please come home / Is it too much to ask?”
It’s no secret that many people will overlook metalcore bands if it’s not their usual genre of choice, but Annisokay really is something special, and Enigmatic Smile is definitely worth the listen. However, the most fascinating thing about this album is the theme behind it. As mentioned before, the band name was inspired by Michael Jackson’s ‘Smooth Criminal’. The chorus is actually based on Michael’s CPR training on Resusci Annie, and the face used as the model for medical workers learning how to give the ‘kiss of life’ is known from the myth as the ‘unknown woman from the Seine‘. Her ‘enigmatic smile’ is the story behind the title and the artwork of the new album by Annisokay.
Annisokay have toured with Silverstein, Blessthefall and Eskimo Callboy, along with various appearances at mammoth rock festivals such as Vainstream and Summer Breeze. The band are hiting the UK in May at the folowing dates:
4th May – Norwich, Arts Centre
5th May – Oxford, O2 Academy 2
6th May – Plymouth, The Hub
7th May – Cardiff, Clwb Ifor Bach
8th May – London, Underworld
10th May – Birmingham, O2 Academy 3
11th May – Glasgow, King Tuts
12th May – Manchester, Sound Control
13th May – Liverpool, O2 Academy 3