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Album Reviews : Arcane – Chronicles of the Waking Dream

By on November 9, 2009

arcanecoverlarge“Acolyte Zero is the story’s primary constituent. He is an enigma, nameless and faceless, who claims to have collated evidence on what he sees as a supernatural presence or entity. The presence reiterates itself every year on the date of the 26th day of May. You know as much as we want you to know.”

That short excerpt comes off of a Myspace page erected sometime before the album’s release, full of cryptic writings and unclear imagery. Why am I copying text off their Myspace? No I’m not a lazy writer trying to pad this out, it’s because it’s an apt indication of just how mysterious this album sounds. ‘Chronicles of the Waking Dream’, the second album from the Brisbane-based Arcane, is an hour-long journey twisting and turning through moods and scenes. In the end, you haven’t really gotten anywhere. You’re still not close to finding out what May 26th is, and the lack of any printed lyrics isn’t going to help you along. The album is designed not to give clear answers, but for the listener to come up with their own interpretation. My interpretation doesn’t exist yet.

‘Chronicles of the Waking Dream’ is incredibly lush. It’s thick with different sounds and is constantly evolving. On one hand, it’s probably not the type of album that is really going to grab your attention straight away, but on the other, it’s not one that you’re going to lose interest in either. In a flash the band go from monstrous riffs backed up by powerful drums and dense, epic keys, to simple piano pieces and whispered vocals. With the aid of the fantastically clear production, those heavier moments sound massive. They sound important, disastrous even. When Jim Grey’s well organised, twisting vocal lines come in, it’s just escalated even further. When everything drops back, the mood changes entirely. What feeling is conjured up inside is up to the listener. The short Silent Year interludes are, no doubt, going to invoke a different mood for you than me, than the band themselves, and than that guy over there.

Musically, it’s tough to critique the band. Being a progressive metal band, the individual players are clearly proficient at playing their instruments, and it’s one of the rare albums where the bass guitar is actually the highlight in certain segments. The music flows perfectly, with not an awkward moment to be heard, and there’s a fantastic balance of soft, heavy, and everything in between. Those of you that aren’t overly experienced in the larger, more progressive areas of music might find it all a bit too much to take in, but at the same time this is just as likely to turn you as any other album.

Arcane have created what is quite easily one of the best progressive metal albums, ever. Sure, ‘best’ is a broad term, but the album hits every mark. It’s a thoroughly interesting hour of music that needs countless listens to truly indulge, if that’s even possible. Get it. 9.5/10

For fans of: Pain of Salvation, Dream Theatre, Porcupine Tree.

Band: Arcane
Album: Chronicles of the Waking Dream
Year: 2009
Genre: Progressive metal/rock
Origin: Brisbane, Australia
Label: Riot! Entertainment

Track listing:
1. Glimpse
2. The Seer
3. The Malice <- Reviewers choice
4. The First Silent Year
5. Secret
6. Fading
7. The Second Silent Year
8. May 26
9. The Third Silent Year
10. Asylum: Acolyte Zero
11. Whisper


Mitch Booth is the owner, designer and grand overlord of Metal Obsession. In the few seconds of spare time he has outside of this site, he also hosts a metal radio show over on PBS 106.7fm in Melbourne (Australia) and organises shows under the name Untitled Touring. You should follow him on Twitter.