ARCANE – Known / Learned [2CD] (2015)
Australian Prog will soon rule the world. There are so many wonderful progressive bands coming out of down under right now, but, without a doubt, ARCANE is the greatest of all.
Arcane spent the last 5 years to craft their new fantastic opus “Known / Learned” (to be released tomorrow), and what an album it is!!!
As you may have suspected, “Known / Learned” is a double album of epic proportions, complete with a darkness / light theme, a heavy disc (Known) and a softer one (Learned), and emotional lyrics.
This being their third album, how does Arcane fare? Can they really pull off an album in excess of 130 minutes?
The answer is a definitive “yes”. I’m incredibly impressed with the grace, maturity and compositional tightness with which this massive album was created. The band is: Jim Grey on vocals, Michael Gagen on guitars, Matt Martin on keyboards, Adrian Goleby on bass and Blake Coulson on drums.
Michael’s guitars are stuttering brilliance, and the rhythm sections on both albums are massive successes, especially Blake’s mad drumming.
Jim’s vocals, however, are on a level of their own. This guy has the range, the tone, and the lungs to out-sing just about anyone. From quiet, beauteous moments to blaring monuments, Jim Grey makes this double album work. Need convincing? Listen to “Womb”.
Arcane has a rather distinctive sound that carries on in this double album. On “Known”, soaring melodies crash straight into hefty riffs and incredible polyrhythmic instrumentals with results that aren’t quite metal, but could certainly be called that.
“Known” is a joy from start to finish, with an opening track that grabs your attention, “Promise [Part 2]” in a jawdropping amazement. It continues on with high level compositions, including the amniotic “Womb” and the greatness of the 20+ minute epic “Learned”.
In fact, the latter has one of the best closing five minutes that I’ve heard in some time.
Catchy, impressive on a technical level, and always sublime, “Known” is near to a masterpiece.
“Learned” is a much different album. Dropping the technical feats of the previous album, “Learned” explores a more human, delicate side to the band. In fact, it’s much more relatable and personal, as the band isn’t hiding behind a wall of sound, so to speak.
The CD begins strongly with “Hunter, Heart & Home”, featuring a consistent and addictive melody. Other strong tracks include “Nightingale’s Weave”, which loops and spins around your mind precariously; and “Impatience and Slow Poison”, which has that slow building effect that can be so incredible.
Arcane has created here a piece of work close to masterpiece.
I think the success of “Known / Learned” is almost entirely down to the fact that this is not a double album. This is two completely separate albums, and should be treated as such.
Sure, they have overlapping themes and titles and the digipak has this cool ying/yang thing going in the art (excellent packaging), but in essence these albums are their own entities with their own themes and styles and they should be treated as two separate sides of a whole.
And both are amazing.
“Known / Learned” is the sort of releases that has so many great moments, an ambitious undertaking of considerable length and one where Arcane show that they are capable of making it in the big leagues.
Disc 1: Known
1. Promise [Part 2]
4. Womb (In Memoriam)
6. Holding Atropos
7. Keeping Stone: Sound on Fire
Disc 2: Learned
1. Hunter, Heart & Home
2. Little Burden
3. Impatience and Slow Poison
5. Nightingale’s Weave
6. Eyes for the Change
7. Keeping Stone: Water Awake
8. Promise [Part 1]
Jim Grey: Vocals
Michael Gagen: Guitars, Hair
Matt Martin: Keyboards
Adrian Goleby: Bass
Blake Coulson: Drums
BUY IT !