Review Summary: Brontide turn the groove all the way up to turtleneck.Artery
is groovy, it’s sexy, it walks with a swagger, and it goes a long way in explaining why the build up to the album’s release was accompanied by dashing pictures of the band sporting suit jackets and turtlenecks. Those familiar with their debut however, will know that Sans Souci
was a different beast entirely. A moody, progressive behemoth of a record; it was crammed full of multiple layers which forged dense and foreboding atmospheres – even coming off at times as a little too intense in its ambition. Artery
sees quite a departure from this sound, and the main protagonists for this stylistic shift are, among others, James Blake and Kendrick Lamar, who topped the band’s playlists during its creation and opened their minds significantly. What’s more, the band decided to step away from being “complicated for the sake of being technical,” in a bid to involve the listener more in their music instead of just impressing them.
Which is often what you found yourself doing while listening to Sans Souci
– admiring it, but from a distance. It was all too easy to find yourself scrutinising each layer, pinpointing each and every intricate detail the looper pedal had to offer, whilst merely tipping your hat to the technicality and ingenuity of Tim Hancock. Although it was highly impressive, it didn't allow for an immersive experience, and it’s something which the band has rectified on Artery
. The brilliant, compact immediacy of both “Cabin” and “Bare My Bones” is testament to the successful change, and they have you nodding your head and tapping your feet before you've had chance to admire the layers which created the irresistible grooves. The intricate nature of Brontide’s music hasn’t been replaced by their desire for more instant connections, it’s just taken a backseat to brighter, more engaging melodies - and Artery
is all the more enjoyable for it.
Although it’s true that they have trimmed the fat and chiselled the edges, there are still echoes of Sans Souci
era Brontide scattered throughout which will be sure to appease their fans of old. Alongside Artery’s
more accessible tracks sit the incredibly varied “Kith and Kin” and the progressive “Knives,” both of which shift their focus numerous times and demonstrate their penchant for unpredictability. Elsewhere, “Still Life” sees them take their first shot at an acoustic track - a particularly bold move for a band that thrive on stacking four or five guitar parts on top of one another. A tenderly plucked acoustic guitar quickly dispels these fears, and there’s a natural, organic beauty to “Still Life” which grows alongside the track’s intensity, proving beyond doubt that they’re capable of surprising us again in the future.
The tactful change of style on Artery
paints Brontide as a more cohesive unit, and the guitar parts no longer stand boldly in the foreground taking centre stage. Although, predictably, they still provide many of the highlights, the more rounded approach they take allows the tight rhythm section to stand out more, and both Nathan Fairweather and Will Bowerman shine every bit as much as Tim Hancock. Artery
sees Brontide let loose and express all of their different faces and influences, and they do so without ever having to abandon the sound which made them such a unique act in the first place.