Sound — 9
Arcane Roots are a British band formed in 2007, that play alternative rock while borrowing influences from math rock, funk rock and progressive metal respectively. After the 2011 release of an EP entitled "Left Fire," the band released their debut full-length album - "Blood & Chemistry," in June 2013.
The production - provided by Dan Austin - is pristine; there is no "loudness war" at play here and the vocals are not drowned in the instrumentation. Speaking of which, the album's instrumentation is excellent. Vocalist and guitarist Andrew Groves plays with feeling and a degree of technicality - this is where the math rock influence can be found.
Tracks such as "Triptych" showcase some excellent, technical riffing and the rhythm section is consistently great throughout the entire album. Lengthier songs such as "Slow" perfectly showcase the subtlety of their switches between quiet, atmospheric sections - such as the aforementioned track and its haunting acoustic outro - and heavier sections as found in "Second Breath." The myriad of changes in time signatures, dynamics and tempo on some tracks, is what keeps the album as a whole particularly interesting - some of the album's songs head to fairly unpredictable places.
Lyrics — 6
The vocals - again provided by Andrew Groves - are extremely varied and show off a large, very impressive range. The emotion in his voice is easy to decipher - tracks such as "Held Like Kites" place particular emphasis on the sheer power of his voice. On the other hand, Groves' screaming is nothing special, but as it does not feature a great deal on the album it does not become a major annoyance at any point.
Lyrically, the album is fairly solid and its lyrics are meaningful at times, while in other instances it can fall into cliché. Album closer "You Keep Me Here," for instance, provides some excellent lyrics:
"This is a letter to feelings that you had sown,
There's no reason or rhetoric answer, love.
You will see when I mean cathartic,
Now you know the sky is falling right to your door"
On the other hand; lyrics such as those in "Resolve" come across as cliché by comparison.
"If I've never shown remorse,
Please know that it was always kept,
And now my bones are cold from feeling a resolve, resolve, resolve"
The lyrical content is particularly varied in regards to its quality, then, for lack of a better description.
Overall Impression — 8
Arcane Roots' debut album presents itself as a solid amalgamation of numerous subgenres - and while the music sometimes jumps all over the place, it does so in such a way that even casual listeners can enjoy the experience.
With unpredictability at hand, "Blood & Chemistry"'s standout songs include the album's closing track, "You Keep Me Here," which culminates in a euphoric climax, "Sacred Shapes," which features numerous changes in dynamics and makes for an intriguing listen, and "Slow," with the aforementioned haunting outro section. The album continually the listener with little surprises here and there, and it quickly becomes evident that the trio have crafted an outstanding debut record.