I have been waiting a long time for this release. Almost as long as I have been waiting for them to tour in Scotland. Every little announcement on Facebook, my breath is held. The post mentions a UK tour, and the breathing gets heavier, then nothing up this way. Oh well, this will have to do for now.
There has been a bit of a buzz around this release, as it is a concept album, split into four chapters: Borealis(North), Austeralis (South), Zephyrus (West), and Eurus (East). Each tracks setting is a different city, that geographically falls into that region, with real life recordings of each city incorporated into the songs.
So, with a big concept, does the music live up to the idea? Well, existing fans are not going to be disappointed, as all the usual hooks, mixed vocals, and screams are all there in abundance. The main difference comes from the linking of songs/places and the lyrics.
On the whole, it is a much heavier album, so in that sense, it is maybe not as automatically accessible as some of their more radio-friendly numbers, but after a few spins, the depth, trying to be created, jumps out at you, and the heavier vibe fits perfectly. There’s a multitude of beefier, grittier, dragged-through-the-gutters riffs. The vocals are the perfect shades of light and dark, good and evil, yin and yang.
There is a lot of anger on this album. A real insight into the tortured mind of Shane. Sometimes it comes out in the song, in the instance of “The Continual Condition”, and sometimes it is in the music, with the fierce and dark side of town feeling “Milestone”. The mix works well, and each song drifts into the other, as if you are flicking page after page of a book. The highs, lows, twists, and turn of anger, hate, reprisals, hope, and a shattered heart and soul.
This could be the one to really send the band over the top. A concept album tends to make or break a band. Historically, you never really get a middle-of-the-road reaction, and as with most concept albums, this is not going to grab you in one sitting. Like a fine wine, this needs some time, and your full attention, so shut out the world, put on some headphones, crank it up loud, and have the lyrics close at hand… and try to hang onto your sanity during the journey. Review by Ritchie Birnie Promo Image: © Anna Lee]]>