Review Summary: Fire, Blood, and Earth.
The idea that one can be deserving of success is something which has never sat comfortably with me. Commercials and reality television tell us every day both subtly and implicitly that we’re deserving of this and we’re entitled to that; so much so that millions have become desensitized to just how ludicrous the idea of a quick fix or an overnight success is. For many, actually working hard for what you want is an optional extra rather than a necessity for success, and the thousands who graft day after day are forgotten. They’ve been replaced by plastic people on equally pliable stages, and they plead through bleary eyes that they were born to sing, and that they deserve at least the opportunity. The circus is over as quickly as it’s begun and it’s repeated ad nauseam; yet the grafters keep on grafting. Arcane Roots have no such sense of entitlement, nor do they have any inclination to tug on your heartstrings; instead, they’ve been quietly working away, virtually nonstop, for five years now.
Their 2013 full length debut album Blood and Chemistry
showed a clear progression from breakout EP Left Fire
, and Heaven & Earth
continues the trend. Andrew Groves and company are reaping the benefits of honing their craft over a prolonged period of time, and rather than changing their formula, they’ve simply perfected it. Whilst melody takes a slightly more prominent role than ever, it’s never at the expense of the expert songwriting, and both the progressive and heavy moments which characterized their earlier works are still peppered satisfyingly throughout. “If Nothing Breaks, Nothing Moves” features typically passionate singing and well placed screams of anguish, and they’re delivered appropriately as and when the song shifts between its lighter and more cacophonous passages. It progresses beautifully from the opening piano line to its emotive conclusion, and it encapsulates everything they’ve been aiming for throughout their career in five brilliant minutes. The outro fades calmly into the next song’s intro, the quality is maintained in the next track, and it doesn’t waver right the way through to the EP’s conclusion.
The intricate lead guitar lines we’re accustomed to are slightly lower in the mix compared to previous releases, but that doesn’t mean that they lack potency. “Slow Dance” shifts from a soaring melody into a dense riff in the song’s infancy, and while it’s nowhere near as outlandish as the likes of “You Are” or “Triptych” it really doesn’t need to be, not when it blends so seamlessly with the rest of the band. Vast sounding chords are favoured throughout, and the cohesiveness which was hinted at on Blood and Chemistry
is taken to the next level here. Each song feels dense, wholesome and refreshingly complete as a result.
It’s a good job that there are still plenty of musicians who are willing to pour tens of thousands of hours into their craft. If there wasn’t, then EP’s like Heaven & Earth
wouldn’t exist, and we wouldn’t be able to admire the rewards which doggedness and persistence bring. I’m still not sure if I’m entirely comfortable suggesting that anyone truly deserves recognition or success, but if anybody does, then it’s the Arcane Roots of this world.