Arcane
Known/Learned


4.5
superb

Review

by ComeToDaddy USER (48 Reviews)
February 2nd, 2015 | 145 replies


Release Date: 01/20/2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A distant goal falls within reach.

When artists choose to construct a double album, the most common pitfall is a disparity that exists between their reach and grasp. Far too often, perfectly capable bands set goals for themselves that they can’t quite grasp, and the project suffers for it. Sometimes they can come frustratingly close too, but setting a coherent story to over 2 hours of music is an extremely difficult task, and more often than not the concept ends up half-baked, never becoming fully realized. Some bands can bridge this gap to an extent, covering the deficiency with passion or technical ability; but this Brisbane-based quintet thoroughly understand their goals and know how to reach them, leaving no deficiency to cover over. Known/Learned is Arcane setting themselves a monumental goal, and putting aside as much time as they need (5 years to be exact) to attain it, resulting in an expansive progressive album that precisely carves a path towards its final destination.

Arcane’s bandcamp states that “the imagery of Known/Learned depicts fragmented moments in the lives of a father and his daughter, their loss, their love, their journey.” By necessity, every narrative has moments of quiet - uneventful stretches that fill the gaps between major complications. Very few tales can be consistently exciting while staying grounded in reality, but Arcane work around this fundamental tenet of storytelling. The non-linear storytelling method employed here allows the band to sidestep convention and arrange Known/Learned in a musically sensible manner, breaking up the character's memories and splitting the touching emotional pieces off into Learned while keeping the exciting portions of the puzzle on Known. This gives each disc of the album a unique character and purpose - yet they both still exist in the same universe and aren’t mutually exclusive. It creates an album that is surprisingly adaptable, where both halves are necessary to see the complete jigsaw, but the split palette also allows the discs to be listened to individually which is a remarkable accomplishment.

Diversity is the key to managing such a hefty concept, and the band provides this in spades. Clashing polyrhythmic passages put Periphery’s recent double album escapades to shame, while the incredibly powerful 2 minutes that close out ‘Unturning’ call to mind Tool at their peak; there are salsa passages, emotive piano pieces, and myriads of influences being conjured through the complex syncopated drumming and delay-driven guitar melodies, without ever sounding derivative or slavishly devoted to their idols. Many elements intertwine here, but each piece rarely feels misplaced, and they all manage to come together to form a vibrant picture thanks to the pristine production. While undoubtedly a progressive album at its core, there’s no instrumental wankery to be found here, and the songs rarely overstay their welcome despite having 11 songs breaking the 7 minute mark. Even with the album’s lengthy playtime, it’s a peculiar example of restraint in the midst of a genre fraught with indulgence and excess.

However, any album so ambitious is bound to have a stumble or two, and this is no exception. Imagining the more subdued Learned as small blue jigsaw pieces that fill the sky in a large painting, it’s easy to see how frustrating the second disc can be after the excitement of Known. It takes far longer to piece this more homogenous second portion together, and early listens can be taxing. The slow, graceful descent to its conclusion can be appreciated with time, but chopping and changing some of the second disc would have made for a more entertaining closure and heightened accessibility. While the singer is stellar and has a phenomenal range, his vocals are very similar throughout; an issue that becomes more prominent as the album progresses and further snowballs the problems with Learned’s consistency. It’s a minor nit-pick, but one that has a significant impact on initial replays.

Have no doubt, Known/Learned is an exhausting and complex puzzle, but it’s one worth solving. Few albums in recent memory have adhered this closely to a concept and ended up sounding so complete - in no small part due to the passion each member pours into his craft, and their ability to communicate this with the listener makes it nearly as cathartic for us as the final payoff for years of labour must be for them. It’s near enough to genre classics to find a welcome home in any modern progressive fan’s library, and still unique enough to be a refreshing listen for any who find themselves disillusioned with the copycats making up the dregs of Bandcamp’s deep barrel. It’s been a long time coming, but it was 5 years well spent, ultimately resulting in an incredibly engaging and refreshing progressive album that deserves to be heard.



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user ratings (191)
Chart.
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
Nick Mongiardo (3.5)
Despite a meandering second half, the mostly stellar first half is certainly what makes this progres...



Comments:Add a Comment 
ComeToDaddy
February 2nd 2015


1787 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Stream can be found here: http://arcaneaustralia.bandcamp.com/



The review ended up a bit hyperbolic, but I could easily see this sitting at the top of my end-of-year list already so I didn't hold back. First 2 tracks are some of the strongest, so it's as good a place to start as any for those interested. As always, constructive criticism is welcomed and appreciated!

tempest--
February 2nd 2015


20630 Comments


I've got this band's other 2 albums, need to grab this one as well.

Don't understand this line, "an expansive progressive behemoth that stands tall against the genre’s decline." Among bands like Animals As Leaders and BTBAM and shit, I'd take a guess that prog metal is more popular now than it ever has been.

ComeToDaddy
February 2nd 2015


1787 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

If you enjoyed the others then you'll love this!



I wouldn't drop a progressive metal tag on this though, there's very little metal about it outside of the polyrhythmic sections, it slots in closer to a niche of prog rock somewhere between Karnivool and Dream Theater. Having said that, it definitely reads a little too hyperbolic so I'll change it up a bit, thanks for the pick.

tempest--
February 2nd 2015


20630 Comments


The hyperbole isn't the issue, I think that saying the genre is in decline is a bit ridiculous.

Another thing is the end of the third paragraph, where you're giving the band props for not being wanky/overlong, as if that's inherent in the genre.

Otherwise this is an excellent review, the last two paragraphs are great.

LunaticSoul
February 2nd 2015


1132 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I'm gonna give the review a read afterwards but what I heard so far left me a little bit 'eh'

SpiritCrusher2
February 2nd 2015


6105 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

idk, I gave this a chance the other day, it starts off really good but gets boring pretty fast. I wish it wasn't so mellow most of the time, because when it is, it's really nothing special imo. maybe this just isn't my type of prog

LunaticSoul
February 2nd 2015


1132 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

The singer is super annoying

MotokoKusanagi
February 2nd 2015


1711 Comments


lol i knew what this album would sound like just from the album art

Digging: DJ Central - Li'ud

cryptside
February 2nd 2015


2397 Comments


Nice one man. Definitely interested in listening to this one.

Piripichotes
February 2nd 2015


486 Comments


Someone finally reviewed this! Very pleased with this album... Way better than the twin periphery releases...

Insurrection
Contributing Reviewer
February 2nd 2015


24657 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

heard a few songs off this and they were excellent. great review

Totengott
February 2nd 2015


4223 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Jammed this a couple days ago and I enjoyed it, will give it another spin tomorrow. Pos, nice review as always!

ComeToDaddy
February 3rd 2015


1787 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks for the kind words friends! Glad to see you enjoyed the album @Ins



@sig, definitely worth checking out a song or two, even if you don't get around to the entire album (2 hours is a long time)

Mythodea
February 3rd 2015


4271 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good, I was looking forward to a major prog release this year and I wasn't amused by Ziltoid, Juggernaut etc. This sounds promising. The predictable intro of Instinct (only song I've heard yet) leads to a not so common ending. I'm pleased and will search for more.



Ah, yeah, good job on the review too!

adr
February 3rd 2015


12004 Comments


what is this another periphery album or

Mythodea
February 3rd 2015


4271 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

better

emester
February 3rd 2015


8251 Comments


I actually like this wtf

Diglett
February 3rd 2015


1607 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

my goodness this is fucking fantastic

Totengott
February 3rd 2015


4223 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Just jammed this again and yeah, this is fucking fantastic [2].

LunaticSoul
February 3rd 2015


1132 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I take back everything I said, first song is as the title says super f'n promising. So many Rishloo-like vibes btw. Great review



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