Review Summary: Despite a meandering second half, the mostly stellar first half is certainly what makes this progressive double album worth the listener's time
A common problem that exists with double albums is that some of them suffer from the same fate. This problem happens to be failing to hold the listener’s attention for the full duration of the time and it even occurs on the best of them occasionally. This proves to be no exception with the progressive Australians known as Arcane. Their immense double album provides its fair share of satisfaction throughout a decent portion of the listen, but the album soon reaches a point where the band seemingly ran out of things to do, with the second disc often losing the listener’s attention. It simply reeks of the band tacking on more songs just for the sake of extending the duration of the album. However, while the second half of the album does indeed drag, most of the first half as well as a stellar select gem in the second disc is a testament of what makes this album tick. All gripes aside, the band excretes loads of potential here due to their refreshing balance of technicality and atmosphere as well as some undeniably impressive vocals.
The first disc serves as a testament to what this band can do when they show off their heavy side. The opener that’s strangely titled “Promises(part 2)” kicks off the record with a satisfying note while showcasing exceptional musicianship ripe with the influences of Dream Theater and Karnivool, with the latter being more prominent. Their technicality is undeniably apparent when they deliver memorable guiar and bass riffs as well as engaging drumming here, but it balances out with some atmosphere when it slows things down a bit to let their singer show off his beautiful and powerful vocals. It’s quite refreshing how well they balance out these two influences with “Unturning” and “Keeping Stone: Sound on Fire” as well. While “Unturning” is busy showing off some killer technical skills and once again stellar vocals, “Keeping Stone: Sound on Fire” puts the technicality to rest with a fantastic main melody that every instrument draws from.
However, make no mistake that when the band slows things down a bit, it makes for a truly moving experience with “Womb (In Memoriam)” and “Holding Atropos” both featuring exceptional amounts of emotional depth. The gentle vocals and thought provoking lyrics carry this minimalist interlude. “Hold Atropos” may indeed be more guitar driven, but the vocals and soothing guitar work proves what this band can do when they let themselves and the listener as well have a moment to breath. Despite “Learned” being an obnoxiously long progressive epic that could have easily been stripped down to ten minutes, the first disc is without a doubt the highpoint of Known/Learned
Judging from all of these positives mentioned above, the listener would think that an overall stunning experience lays ahead. Unfortunately, Known/Learned
proves to be a double album with most of the pros crammed in the top. The second disc certainly meanders and loses the listener’s attention quite often due to the over emphasis on slower songs not living up to the quality of “Womb(In Memoriam)” and “Hold Atropos.” It should be said that nothing on this disc is bad, but “Hunter, Heart and Home” kicks things out on a bit of a disappointing note with it ditching atmosphere for the most part in favor of a more alternative rock vibe. The drumming and somber vocals are solid, but its length quickly becomes a tad cumbersome. “Little Burden” also offers a mostly mundane take on their slower style despite a satisfying conclusion filled with soaring melodies and exceptional vocal work. What it really comes down to is that there’s quite simply not enough variety to go around in this second half because the songs sound mostly the same. Although, the hidden gem here lays in the brilliance of “Eyes for the Change.” In addition to a finally justified length, this song features the band at their slower best due to mesmerizing percussion, stunning vocals and a beautiful subdued atmosphere. However, when all is said and done, it’s quite a shame that the second half often fails to keep the listener’s attention until the very end.
exists as a solid addition into the modern progressive catalogue and Arcane is surely a band that reeks of talent. While this album may suffer from an overlong length and somewhat lackluster alternative rock songs, the first disc features what makes this album truly worthwhile to give a shot. They also utilize their Karnivool/Dream Theater influences exceptionally well due to their balance of skillful musicianship and atmosphere. Be sure to not pass this solid 2015 entry up because it really does contain some stellar songs.