With Biffy Clyro off gallivanting around stadiums, Arcane Roots have made a debut that looks as though it could fill the void of all those disheartened former Biffy fans.
After a series of successful EPs, various hype-worthy festival appearances and appearing as the only unsigned band on Kerrang!'s Nevermind Forever cover CD, you could say that Blood & Chemistry is one of the year's more anticpated alt. rock albums.
Opening with surprisingly soft harmonies, it's not long until the band erupts into a frenzy of raucous guitars, accompanied by lead vocalist Andrew Grove's falsetto wailing; man, can that guy sing. 'Energy Is Never Lost, Just Redirected' is a five minute belter that is the perfect introduction to Blood and Chemistry. The raucousness continues on 'Resolve'… which unfortunately sounds as if 'Energy Is Never Lost…' has spilled onto track two. It doesn't last for long though, as the song has a stadium worthy sing-a-long chorus that makes for an addictive ear worm.
Grove really lets his vocals do the talking on 'Belief', as the choppy signature changes of the previous two tracks have been swapped for a slower, gentler offering. The energy isn't lost though, as desperate lyrics evoke an atmosphere of regret and lost love, making 'Belief' a power ballad without the cheese. The dynamic shifts on 'Sacred Shapes', as the three-piece make a meal out of their guitars - intricate, frenzied and reminiscent of early At The Drive-In, the track really showcases just how capable this band are.
'Hell & High Water' is unfortunately, a bit of a filler track. After the impressive skills of 'Sacred Shapes' this one just feels a little lazy - a little too safe. It's a nice addition to the album and is by no means a bad song but from what has gone before, Arcane Roots can do better than this. Thankfully, they do. 'Triptych' awakens anything that the previous track dulled by slapping you in the face with a barrage of screams, strums and smacks. Known for their epic live shows, this is a song that perfectly depicts that same intensity.
Next up is first single 'Slow'. Intricate, multifaceted but with a mainstream-worthy chorus, Arcane Roots manage to craft a song that works without selling-out. It's a comfortable choice for the band to put this one out to the masses first, as earlier tracks are somewhat more enticing. Let's hope this'll entice others to listen to the whole album. 'Second Breath' taps into the intensity of 'Triptych' that will no doubt get heads bobbing within seconds. It's not as impressive as it's predecessor but by no means is it a throw-away filler.
Sadly, the token acoustic slow number that often appears on albums such as this shows up with 'Held Like Kites'. It's nice enough but the predictable chord changes, lack of energy and conventional structure really lets it down. It's a shame, as the album was really coming together but this break in depth rids Arcane Roots of their capabilities. Finishing off with 'You Keep Me Here', it's clear this is a closer for any live show. A prolonged, sing-along chorus, complete with epic, repetitive vocals, the album does go out with a bang. Whether it was the right bang is unfortunately, debatable.
Blood & Chemistry is a sound debut that despite its flaws, will whole-heartedly be welcomed by alternative rock fans.
6Sammy Maine's Score