If you’re a regular reader of Cat On The Wall you will have noticed several things over the past few months: we haven’t updated for longer than we care to admit and, rather glaringly, we don’t do reviews. So it may come as a surprise that, hey, this is a new update and the article below is in fact a review by COTW twitter friend Chris Fishlock who runs his own blog over here. Reviews to us are like fine dinnerware, they only come out on special occasions and you couldn’t get more of an event than a band releasing an album after 12 years. We featured an interview with Alec Empire back in 2009 and didn’t think to ask him if an Atari Teenage Riot reunion was on the cards, for us it was impossible to comprehend such a thing but as 2010 proved, anything is possible.
Empire, Nic Endo and newly recruited MC CX Kidtronik announced to the world that Atari Teenage Riot were back and on the rampage. The group then hit the road and performed some exceptionally stunning shows on the ATR reunion tour (if you remember we reviewed the London date) taking a short breather to head into the studio and produce the first ATR record since 1999 ‘Is This Hyperreal?’. The band is already heading back on tour and we’ll be catching up with them when they blow up the Fleece and Firkin in Bristol on 13th May 2011, it’s certainly going to be hard to contain ATR’s insane energy in such a small venue. Bring it on!
Atari Teenage Riot – Is This Hyperreal?
Review by Chris Fishlock
It’s been twelve years and a major line up change since the last Atari Teenage Riot record, but their much awaited comeback album ‘Is This Hyperreal?’, released on 20th June 2011, sounds like the same iconic band. Last year the 90s digital hardcore pioneers returned to stage with a much acclaimed comeback live show, which demonstrated that the band still had it. ‘Is This Hyperreal?’ features songs just as good as the ATR classics, with just as much meaning to them.
The album opens with last year’s powerful single ‘Activate’ giving a loud start to the album in true Atari Teenage Riot style. The track defines ATR in many ways and has just about everything you can wish for from an ATR song: the classic shouting chorus, political lyrics, lots of noisy sounds and female vocals. The rest of the album is almost a deconstruction of the track going into its different parts more deeply.
Along with ‘Activate’ ‘Is This Hyperreal?’ features plenty of classic Atari Teenage Riot tracks that are along the same lines of ‘Revolution Action’ and ‘Start the Riot’ with shouty and catchy chorus. One of these tracks is anarchist anthem ‘Black Flags’ which will have you shouting along by the time the track ends and also has one of the best and most powerful bass lines on the album. You’ll want to keep the track on repeat. ‘Codebreaker’, ‘The Only Slight Glimmer of Hope’ and ‘Rearrange Your Synapses’ also follow the same classic Atari Teenage Riot format with fast tempos, more shouting choruses and lots of noise which are sure to go down very well live.
One of the few criticisms of the reformed Atari Teenage Riot line up is the lack of vocals from Hanin Elias, however the band have used this to their advantage by taking on Nic Endo onto lead female vocals (she was previously “officially” on backing vocals only and noise programming/production duty), showing just how much of an able vocalist she is as well as her capacity for making noise. Many tracks really boast her vocal talents leaving her in a lead vocal role, such as latest single ‘Blood In My Eyes’, and Endo really proves her worth with the heavy sounding ‘Shadow Identity’ and the danceable ‘Digital Decay’. CX Kidtronik also puts a good deal of effort into the album with his vocals featuring on powerful tracks, of course ‘Activate’ but also ‘Rearrange Your Synapses’.
One of the reasons that makes this a strong album is the variety of the songs, you have your classic heavy ATR songs that they are known for (‘Activate’, ‘Rearrange Your Synapses’), slower, slightly quieter songs (‘Blood In My Eyes’ and the atmosphhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.giferic ‘Is This Hyperreal?’), and also dance tracks that fit into the 90s rave scene (‘Digital Decay’ and the borderline commercial finisher ‘Collapse of History’). Each track is unique and strong; they fit in together well as an album but also sound great on their own.
The album is consistently great, with many addictive tracks; you will find yourself wanting to listen to the album over and over. Alec Empire and Co. have clearly worked hard and it really shows. They have brought the original Atari Teenage Riot sound into 2011 and have arguably made the album of their career. You will find it hard to find a better album released this year.
Live Photo: C.B Lux