After their first acclaimed album, Biffy could have just gone and recorded Blackened Sky Part II. However, as for a few songs from their past work, they decided to switch to drop D and concentrate on getting a heavier sound. In general, this album is the evolution of the band, as so many second albums promise to be from so many other bands.
The first thing to notice about the songs is the names. They’re getting weirder. They do however remain nice and long, each one clocking up an average of 6 minutes each, which is a move away from their short to-the-point hits.
The next is the vocals. Simon uses his screams more, and the 3 member melodies are back in places, and more effective.
Bodies in flight
gets the album started, with snarling opening vocals over their newly acquired low D note. It’s a song that lets up in places into nice chorus sections and soft vocals, but its then back into a quick heavy end section bringing this new Biffy monster to its end.
The Ideal Height
starts with a perky intro guitar section, with Simon’s vocals coming in to deliver some clever vocals. The song reaches its halfway point with this formula, and then the distortion kicks in for a short time, before trailing off into the build up for the end explosion, which is a tamer one for Biffy.
shows the improvement in the clean guitar sections in this album. The riffs are mellow and effective, and a strings backing gives the song a nice calm mood. However, there is rarely a moment of silence with Biffy, and after the mini solos, the song prepares to launch into its orchestral conclusion. Lots of new instruments have been incorporated into this song, and they all layer each other in the second third. For the ending, its back to the guitar/bass/drum battle, each instrument battling for the spotlight at times, and the vocal switching is effective.
is a face paced song, with a punkish feel to it. It involves a lot of Deftones style vocals in places, and apart from the odd calm section, it’s a speedy song with some good vocal trade offs at the end.
Liberate The Illiterate/A Mong Among Mingers
is an example of song writing depth Biffy have now achieved. There are some great distorted bass parts, and screaming distortion. The song repeats the first section twice, with variations in all parts to give it a unique feel, before heading off into the beautiful end part with another vocal melody from all band members, bringing this song to its close.
Diary Of Always
is unlike anything Biffy have made before. A backing organ style sound with the simple beat, and background vocals of ‘I just wish we all could betray’ playing throughout as rhythmic backing. Simon delivers some great lyrics over the top, and more instruments are brought in over time, building the song up into an operatic ending, ruined somewhat by the nasty squealing end feedback. A song heavily influenced by fellow Scots Mogwai, and totally unique compared to the other songs on this album.
Questions and Answers
goes back to the old Festival style sing along catchy riff songs of Biffy. Starting off with the type of ending feedback/mad drumming/etc that most songs seem to end on, it quickly moves into a simple riff. The chorus is instantly singable, and the mini solo in the song seems to break things up nicely. Gets very loud and distorted at the end, which works well in this case.
Eradicate the Doubt
is a simple fast track, with a few little appealing riffs, and is one that can get a crowd going. Not a lot else special about it though
When The Faction’s Fractioned
is another mainly uninspired track. It tries to get going, but each time it simply resets and builds up again. Some fun vocal tricks though from Simon, with random ‘ooh’s ‘ha’s’ and ‘hey’s’.
Toys Toys Toys Choke Toys Toys Toys
probably wins the award for most ‘eh???’ song title on the album. Its also a return to some better songs. Nastier, snarling in parts and some cool sounding guitar parts make this one stand out a bit more than others, simply because it sound 10x bigger than the other songs at times.
All The Way Down (Prologue/Chapter one)
is the best song on the album. Period. It starts acoustic, moves into a nice solo with mild overdrive, some vocal brilliance, nice slow build up, stop/start parts that keep you gripped, then a brilliant unleashing of the big dynamic part with some nice octave work, great vocal choir from the band, and well layered parts. Some great song writing makes this one a must hear.
Man Of His Appalling Posture
starts promising. Quick riff, changing into the vocal section, yet keeping up the pace with some nice bass. Then a riff variation comes in to bring the chorus in to play. A small clean section is all the rest you’ll get in this one, as its another shorter song (just over 3 minutes) but a bit better than other tracks on the album
Now The Action Is On Fire
shows the band is getting tired. It’s a song of 3 parts. The furious opening section, then a middle clean section with some string backing. Then a fantastic build up riff ignites the explosive last part of the song, where each member puts in every last bit of energy into their own section.
Then the hidden track is left. A simple acoustic/clean piece of music, which is a nice way to finish, although as a regular song wouldn’t hold much weight.
This whole album was recorded in a single day. No messing about in a studio for over a year for these guys, every part was done in the same day, hence why at times you can hear the strain on Simon’s voice, or the odd let off in energy. The plus side is that all the raw energy is put into each song, and they sound like they belong together, rather than 13 songs recorded over a year with variable quality to each.
Goodbye to those Festival sing along songs
Improved instrument skill
Vocals sound better
Some really amazing songs
Goodbye to those Festival sing along songs
Sometimes guitar sounds muddy
Drop D haters will instantly be put off
Some weaker songs
An album that any Biffy fan should easily pick up straight away. For those trying to get into the band, this would be the best album to get to understand what Biffy are like. Not as catchy as Blackend Sky, but is better in most other ways