Since self-releasing their mini-album, "Left Fire", back in 2011 (with a physical re-release last year), ARCANE ROOTS' popularity has been gaining all the way with Radio One airplay- courtesy of none other than BIFFY CLYRO's Simon Neil, a record deal with PIAS and hype in pretty much every corner of the music press under their belts. But if such a huge surge of interest in the band in such a short space of time doesn't seem daunting to you then, with the release of their debut album "Blood & Chemistry", now it's time for ARCANE ROOTS to really put their money where their mouths are. With an even more dazzling array of genres mixed in than ever before; prop, pop, alt-rock, post-hardcore, math-rock and anything else they feel a track needs, ARCANE ROOTS manage to pull it all together into one cohesive product delivering an album that is innovative without being divisive and accessable without being overly commercialised.
Opening with the hardcore blast of "Energy Is Never Lost Just Redirected", it seems less like a statement of intent and more a full blown declaration of war proving that, while they've never disguised the pop vein to their music or their love of a good hook, ARCANE ROOTS are no conformists and do exactly what they want to. Next comes advance single, "Resolve" which has the aforementioned pop hooks in spades yet still willfully confounds expectations with a frantic variation on the main riff rearing it's head at the song's climax. They slow things right down for ballad "Belief" mixing math-rock noodles into what could be a slower cut from BIFFY CLYRO's "Puzzle" but the frenetic, angular riffing returns on "Sacred Shapes" which has shades of, "Left Fire" highlight, "In This Town Of Such Weather" with some 22 thrown in for good measure before a lush acoustic outro shows yet another side to their sound. "Hell & High Water" is a colossal anthem in waiting and "Triptych" illustrates the immense technical prowess of the band with an off-kilter blend of math-rock and post-hardcore and an insane mathcore bridge verging on THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN territory. Second single, "Slow" is anything but its namesake and isn't as easily accessable as "Resolve" but definitely warrants repeated listens and a reprise of the outro to "Sacred Shapes" asking "is love enough?" gives the album an overall cohesion rather than just being a collection of (admittedly brilliant) tracks. Following this, ARCANE ROOTS go in an entirely opposite direction with the heaviest track on the album, "Second Breath" but even at their most frenetic, there's still plenty of depth to the songwriting. The semi-acoustic "Held Like Knives" is the weakest track here but it's not bad by any stretch of the imagination while the best is saved 'til last with "You Keep Me Here" condensing the numerous sounds they explore across the album into one final outing. Their relative inexperience doesn't shine through at all and one wonders how long it will be before ARCANE ROOTS follow BIFFY CLYRO onto the arena circuit. (8/10)
"Blood & Chemistry" is out now through PIAS