One of the biggest British rock bands of this century, Biffy Clyro really should need no introduction. Now on their ninth studio album, a pairing with last year’s sister album A Celebration of Endings’ (I believe I gave it a 7/10 after upping it by the end of the year), the band has played some of the biggest venues and festivals in the country. I used to be a big fan of this band, but I reviewed the last album and wasn’t the most impressed I’ve ever been. I’m a big fan of their Puzzles/Only Revolutions era, so their softer side dominating the heavier side in recent years has put me off ever so slightly. There were still redeeming features of their last album though, and a lot of it grew on me. Hopefully this one will be the same, if not better!
Ignoring the first three and a half minutes (‘DumDum’ acts as an okay intro but is far too long and drawn out and slow and boring), the band launch into one of the singles off the album and one of the better singles they have done in a long time, ‘A Hunger in your Haunt’. Opening on a fun, pretty heavy guitar riff, the band stick to their oft-forgotten rock roots through a drum-heavy verse, with Simon’s vocals having an anger to them that wasn’t heard all too much on Celebration. The track still rips into a pretty catchy, open, and great chorus, formulaic for Biffy but that doesn’t at all make it bad. It’s been a while since they’ve put out a track like this as a single so it’s nice to have that formula back! We get a cool, harmonised bridge riff after the second chorus and some typically catchy ‘woh’s before it drops down to just bass for a ‘Golden Rule’ style ending, building an awesome riff over the top of it. It unfortunately goes back into the chorus again afterwards, but it’s such a good chorus I cannot exactly complain! This was a good song and easily made the playlist!
‘Denier’ keeps the pace and heaviness up later with a pretty massive opening riff, the drums going hard throughout. The dropping out at the start of the verse was nice and added to the catchiness of it all, and the melody for the second half SCREAMED the good side of Twenty One Pilots. It then slows up and opens up even more for the chorus, a catchy vocal line backed up by huge instrumentation and the addition of some subtle strings in the back. The bridge is pretty awesome, the riff great and Simon’s vocals again dripping with emotion and attitude, and said bridge finishes the song off. It was a little abrupt an ending but the song was great!
‘Separate Missions’ opens on some synth that sounds ripped straight out of the 80s. It went on a little long but finally drops out for Simon’s vocals to come in over the top of just the drums and bass. The harmonising between vocals and synth through the latter parts of the verses was a nice, enjoyable touch, adding some interesting depth. The chorus stays as low and stripped-back as the rest of the song, but hey, at least it was catchy. Unfortunately, the song doesn’t really go anywhere, it stays at the same plodding, steady level for the entire song, which is a shame as the basic premise is okay. I just got bored of it after a couple of minutes.
The pace picks up a little again with ‘Witch’s Cup’s opening riff, it almost sounding uplifting in its composition. However, it then unfortunately drops down massively into the verse, it being very low and slow, even the vocals. It builds up to the opening riff again for a MASSIVE chorus, but it doesn’t last anywhere near as long as it should the first time through. The addition of the synth in the back of the second chorus was great though, adding even more epicness to it! Outside of the chorus stuff I could take or leave this song, but the chorus was that good that I still really enjoyed the track.
‘Holy Water’ is the obligatory acoustic track of the album, Simon playing some beautiful chords behind his awesome vocals. It’s not quite ‘Space’ or ‘God and Satan’, but it is still a beautiful song filled with profound lyrics and an awesome vocal performance. Every rock album needs a ballad and this one is pretty good, fitting the album’s tone well. Heck, it even gets heavy towards the last quarter, something that the other tracks I mentioned didn’t do. It was a nice change of pace and gave off an almost early Muse vibe, fun and proggy, and epic. The last-minute and a half of this was FANTASTIC, containing maybe the heaviest riff the band has ever written, and easily caused the song to make the playlist.
Both ‘Errors in the History of God’ and ‘Haru Urara’ are typical Biffy album tracks, weird and chaotic goodness. Neither are going to be standout tracks on the album for me but they are good songs in their own rights and definitely won’t be getting skipped on subsequent listens. Heck, the latter has an AWESOME easy listening/jazz riff running through it that I couldn’t get enough of.
Next up is the lead single from the album, ‘Unknown Male 01’. I had no idea how to feel about this track when I first heard it, and to be honest that feeling is still around when writing this. The main instrument through it is an organ, for a start. There are a few stabs of guitar-centered parts for the choruses and a heavier riff that pops in and out seemingly at random throughout, but it doesn’t feel that ‘rock’. The heavier parts are fun, and there are some fun vocal melodies in there too, but generally it feels like a messy song, and it was such an odd choice for a single compared to others on the album. Hopefully I’ll warm to it in the future, but for now, it’s still a little meh.
‘Existed’ is another slower, 80s feeling track, relying pretty heavily on the synth and simple drums that almost sound electronic. Now they’re going for the not-so-fun side of Muse’s music. It’s another track like ‘Separate Missions’ though that doesn’t really go anywhere. Then we reach the final track on the album, ‘Slurpy Slurpy Sleep Sleep’. It opens on Simon repeating the song title in an electronic chant style for like a full minute plus. It finally gives way to a HEAVY riff from the instruments, following the same rhythm of the vocals. It unfortunately then drops down to slower, synth-led stuff. Hello Muse. Again, there are some slightly heavier, guitar-based parts and Simon gets a bit aggressive with his vocals at times, but generally it’s pretty mid-tempo and light. It’s a far cry from the closing track of the Sister album, ‘Cop Syrup’. I nearly said it’s a slow, underwhelming way to close out an album before the band slap me in the face with the heavy intro for a minute and a half to close the track. It’s still not the biggest, best way Biffy has ever closed a track, but it’s at least better than it going out with a whimper. Damn, I wish this was ‘Cop Syrup’.
Overall: This was a real mixed bag of an album. Tracks like ‘Hunger in your Haunt’ and ‘Holy Water’ are fantastic and classic Biffy stuff, but then there was a lot of attempting to play to a more modern audience that I just couldn’t connect with. I’m sure this is the sort of style that the band wants to write in and if people like it then awesome, but too many modern bands are straying far from their rock roots these days and it puts me off them. I’m a fan of a lot of pop too, but I don’t want pop when I listen to the likes of Biffy or Shinedown. A fairly average album overall, which is a shame given its strong start.
The Score: 6.5/10
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