Local music: Attack Attack!

Chris DeVille, Columbus Alive

At once this city's most popular musical export and its most ridiculed, few bands experience the scrutiny that accompanies a new Attack Attack! album.

Nobody is more aware of that than Attack Attack!, whose members felt immense pressure to continue mining the bizarre hybrid they essentially invented on 2008's "Someday Came Suddenly," monstrous Warped Tour metalcore grafted to hyperactive rave music.

"You start to get used to people helping you run your career or run your career for you. You just become a people-pleaser," drummer Andrew Wetzel said. "That's kind of what this record is the opposite of."

"This Means War," the group's third album, is the sound of Attack Attack! shaking off shackles. Somehow both heavier and poppier, more streamlined yet less boxed-in, it redefines them. Vestiges of the old sound remain, but this is miles away from goofball teenagers dancing like crabs.

"I personally had thought we had signed our death warrant with this record," Wetzel said.

Change was only natural after losing singer-guitarist Johnny Franck, whose departure for religious reasons in November 2010 caught his bandmates off guard.

"Sometimes people's lives change and they feel like they need to make a drastic change in their life," Wetzel said. "You just gotta accept that and just kind of love them and just roll with it."

Caleb Shomo, who already handled the screaming, took on singing duties, too. After touring Europe and headlining Warped Tour last year, they holed up at Shomo's home studio in October to write and record. Five weeks later, the new album was complete. Then anxiety set in.

Now, with "This Means War" garnering the best reviews of their career, Wetzel is breathing easier about the national tour that kicks off Thursday at the Newport.

"I guess sincerity is something that definitely can be conveyed through music," he said.

Newport Music Hall

6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 26

1722 N. High St., Campus