All one needs to know about Velociraptor! can be gleaned from the album cover: It’s dark, brooding and has a few screaming band members. But none of that detracts from Kasabian’s fourth effort, which takes more than a few strides from 2009’s West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum. The British outfit has always toed, with finesse, the fine tightrope line between indie and hard rock. But with the advent of Velociraptor!, that line has been blurred to obscurity.

Kasabian

Velociraptor!
Columbia


Despite taking its name from Charles Manson’s female getaway driver, Kasabian draws some influence from a couple of fairly conventional bands. “Let’s Roll Just Like We Used To,” the first track on Velociraptor!, begins with the combination of a lone horn and creepy background vocals, but eventually settles into traditional form — it could easily double as a modified hit off the latest Muse release. “Re-wired,” in all likelihood one of the best songs Kasabian has put out, has a shade of that cool British disdain that is oh-so-inherent to bands like the Arctic Monkeys, among others. The key here is that while the record does borrow some sounds, it’s wholly distinguishable as an entirely separate work, making it well rounded instead of plagiaristic.

Velociraptor! also fortunately runs into one of the rare beneficial accidents of the music industry. Well-received singles are few and far between and are infrequently overshadowed by the rest of the album. However, “Days Are Forgotten” is one of those “perfect storms” where not only is it the hit representative of the record, but it’s not even the best on it — the single essentially leads listeners to a wealth of great material. That being said, “Days Are Forgotten” engages a left-hook chorus that will keep it a lasting fixture on alternative radio stations in the coming weeks.

Kasabian is also clearly undaunted to showcase its darker side. “Switchblade Smiles,” which can be heard on the upcoming “Fifa 12” soundtrack, is all but a lock to be the second single released. Beginning with a deep, fuzzy bass riff, the song switches to a few moments of warbled vocals reminiscent of an imam’s call to prayer, before the drums thunder in and the already intense track picks up even more. “I Hear Voices” is less creepy than one might expect from the title, but the fluid guitar and fluctuating synthesizer meet perfectly at the chorus as frontman Tom Meighan issues his countdown: “One minute to, one minute to, one minute to midnight!”

The Leicestershire locals have always been known for their grand, driving power-rock anthems, and Velociraptor! only gives them more occasion to dial up the intensity. Aside from “Goodbye Kiss” — an out-of-place ballad with actual sentimentality — and a relatively dead track in “Neon Noon,” the record is packed with bravado and bold audacity. On the heels of its last work being overshadowed by the death of Michael Jackson, Kasabian has taken advantage of its latest opportunity to make a statement. The band has issued the proclamation that it will be heard and that its name will be spoken along with Muse and the Arctic Monkeys as some of the best that England currently has to offer.

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