Arcane Roots - Blood & Chemistry

Like a toddler on E-numbers who can’t decide what he wants to play with.

The first album proper from these post-hardcore rockers from Surrey serves as a lesson in how a British band can unashamedly appropriate a genre more linked to 90s American bands, and make it completely and comfortably their own. And in the tradition of three-pieces that make one helluva racket, Arcane Roots sound much bigger than the sum of their parts, thanks to distortion, dense riffing, and a few big ol’ screaming seshes.

With a sound that’s generally pitched between poppy alt. rock and heavy melodic rock, there’s plenty of scope for varying it up. Quasi-schizophrenic, ‘Blood & Chemistry’ jumps around like a toddler on E-numbers who can’t decide what he wants to play with; some metal here, a bit of funk there, and a sprinkling of math-rock riffs ensure that as with a hyperactive mini human, your full attention is being demanded: no passive listening experience is this.

Album opener ‘Energy Is Never Lost, Just Redirected’ and ‘Sacred Shapes’ sound reminiscent of early Incubus, with their slap-bass funk metal, tricky riffage, and guitarist / vocalist Andrew Groves’ vocals soaring and emotive but never overshadowing the complex instrumentals. On the softer end of the spectrum, a quiet / loud juxtaposition is deployed quite literally, with songs such as ‘Belief’ and ‘Hell & High Water’ starting off as tender, mid-tempo moments – before abruptly blasting into heavier territory, lending them an anthemic feel. Even the only ‘true’ slow song ‘Held Like Kites’, a warm and hazy meditation, can’t resist the lure of texturing, with drummer Daryl Atkins sneaking in crash cymbal flourishes. But the record ends as it began, with a gutsy number showing off a punchy time signature, abrupt switches, and Groves’ versatile voice wrapping around and complementing the whole lot. Like Biffy Clyro on turbo drive, ‘You Keep Me Here’ manages to be fantastically hooky and kind of gorgeous at the same time; if not for its radio-unfriendly nine-minute length, it would’ve made an ideal single release.

Not only ambitious, ‘Blood & Chemistry’ is also invigorating. It’s good to have a have a hard whack to the temporal lobe and be reminded that us Brits can serve up some juicy alternative rock just as well as any of our cousins over the Atlantic.

Tags: Arcane Roots, Reviews, Album Reviews

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