Herald rating:

* * * *

Shapeshifter's last album,



, had some of the Christchurch band's most catchy tracks, and as a result their popularity soared. This time round, on their fourth album, it's all about the trip - and

The System Is A Vampire

is a thrilling extension of the ebb and flow of their visceral live show. Opener


, is a hyped-up haere mai anthem that hammers out beats verging on cheesy, fit-inducing house music, but thankfully they don't overstay their welcome; then they drop it down into smooth rolling drum'n'bass territory for

Life Time

before the ambient and eerie

Longest Day

and the dancehall slop of



Despite the album's title, lyrically the album is more loved-up than lippy - "It's the undefinable something ... it's the touch," croons singer P Digsss on tranquil beauty

The Touch

. So the potency of the album comes mainly from the drums, which are a perfect mix of pummelling power and subtlety.

The trip really starts kicking in on

Twin Galaxies

, a spacey tune that takes off like a chopper with Digsss in soaring vocal form;


takes a darker more atmospheric turn and it's as if dry ice is being pumped out of the speakers. That gives way to the echoing, percussive and primal title track before the drum'n'bass metal of Tokyo.

Played loud this album is like Shapeshifter has set up in the corner of your lounge and you and your mates have them all to yourself. So turn it up.

Scott Kara