Review Summary: A fitting end to an incredible era”It is with heavy hearts, that we announce the end of this chapter of Arcane Roots.”
On the Third of September 2018, Arcane Roots announced through every channel they could that the band was breaking up. While I and many others were saddened by this apparently out-of-the-blue announcement, somehow it makes sense. Arcane Roots as we knew them, until the last year or so, were synonymous with complex, heavy math-rock and have slowly completed a U-turn to what we know today; an emotionally rich, diverse-sounding band, in which each song they make could go for subtle, electronic-heavy emotionality or for a refined version of the mathcore from Blood & Chemistry
(‘Everything [All At Once]’)
’Don’t you think it’s already over¿’
Their breaking up is possibly the most important thing to consider when listening to this EP. It helps to explain the songs; how three are an electronic redux of pieces off Melancholia Hymns
, majorly (or almost solely) composed and performed by Andrew Groves; and how the fourth, the title track, is musically the strongest track Arcane Roots have ever performed. It marks the end of the 180-degree turn for the band, the final step towards becoming a different band altogether from what they started as back in 2006.
’Don't think I'll ever forget all that I ever saw’
Where Melancholia Hymns
was a mile away and yet just around the corner from their previous work, the Landslide
EP is similarly a mile away and yet closely related to their 2017 LP. Asides from the obvious, the subject matter in the lyrics throughout this EP continues similarly, a more omniscient perspective on relevant issues of our time, but the music is almost purely electronic, the most divisive element of their 2017 masterpiece. After Landslide, I was expecting three similar songs, so when they released ‘Matter [revel]’ it was admittedly a shock to the system. Slow, meandering, the antithesis of what defined Arcane Roots. No hint of guitars, no hint of (acoustic) drums. The melodies of the chorus the only obviously similar aspect to the original song, it sounds less like a remix, and more like an entirely new track. It hardly even sounds like the same band, asides from Groves’ distinctive vocals.
’What can I say, to stay¿’
The beauty in this EP is that it not only works on its own, but it finishes off Melancholia
spiritually and musically. ‘Before Me [Over]’ is the closest we’re going to get to an Arcane Roots piano ballad; ‘Off The Floor [Fade]’ sounds more like the “new” Arcane Roots version of the original, ‘Off The Floor’ which was arguably the most Left Fire
-esque song on their 2017 EP. All of this with lyrics that continue to explore the same topics as the original tracks; for example what I think of as a compassionate view on refugees and immigrants in ‘Off the Floor’ and its Landslide counterpart.
’Will you show them something like they've never heard of¿’
The objectively correct word for the composition and musicality in this EP is... I suppose “underwhelming” if you’re used to Arcane Roots’ more full-on breakdown type music. Or, maybe even any
of their previous work. But, with a little time, it really settles in as the subtle EP it is; what it may be lacking in shredding guitar riffs and emotive harsh vocals, it makes up for with the heartfelt and honest performance of Andrew Groves (perhaps his best to date), and the perfect production and composition of the tracks. ‘Matter [Revel]’ is the most lo-fi, never raising to the shattering heights of the original, while ‘Before Me [Over]’ is completely different in composition and slightly more like ‘Indigo’ than ‘Before Me’. ‘Off The Floor [Fade]’ uses the same semiquaver click to introduce it, and then springboards off to a completely different place. Which is even more impacting than the original.
’So don’t you save a single breath for me when I’m gone.’
Arcane Roots have run their long and fruitful course as a whole and this EP shows them reaching their destination creatively and musically. It may be that they want to go in different directions creatively, as Groves appears to have a sudden liking (and talent) for electronic music. It may be for some other reason. Nevertheless, I wish them all the best in their future endeavours. They deserve it, after this incredible 12 years. And you never know, maybe some day we will see them come together again.