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Album Reviews : Arcane – Known/Learned

By on June 4, 2015

Arcane-KnownLearnedCrowd funding is a touchy subject when it comes to music. Obviously many bands in the metal scene often cannot sustain themselves from deals within record companies and must maintain grueling touring schedules to keep their heads above water. On the other hand, it’s blatant that the concept of fans having to pay twice for an album, no matter how much they paid in both instances, is a conundrum. There’s also the issue of deciding how much a sponsor pays before becoming a shareholder that has legitimate claims to input during the creative process, thus running the risk of either compromising artistic integrity or the interests of an invested fan base. You still here after that? Good, because regardless of the issues crowd funding conjures, Arcane’s latest album Known/Learned is one of the best examples of crowd funded products done properly. This album is downright addictive, intriguing and overall enjoyable.

The album is split straight down the middle, offering a colossal 16 tracks divided into eight per disc, which is pretty much unheard of in most scenes but grindcore or perhaps a derivative rapcore album. And unlike other bands who’ve practically filled CDs to capacity with a few good tracks and then littered the rest of the album with shit to scream value (I’m looking at you, Five Finger Death Punch), these 16 tracks are all great to listen to. If you were coming into this album expecting a progressive “metal” album, though, you may be disappointed. Known/Learned is progressive rock at heart, and aside from a few heavier sections, is set at a mid pace with softer characteristics.

Michael Gagen does a good job throughout the album of creating unique moods and unusual melodic sections. Each song has a similar style to one another which will garner familiarity by the end, but the leads and the transitions on each song ensure that they never become particularly dull. Matt Martin’s keyboards liven the musical landscape with subtle touches that, though simple, make each moment shine. The bass makes a positive impact on the overall mood of the song; Adrian Goleby isn’t just content with making the guitar sound better. Each bass line is thoughtful and significant in the song context. Drum work is in keeping with the rest of the band, as Blake Coulson provides a solid backdrop to the rest of the album. But by far, the highlight of the album has to be Jim Grey’s vocals. Grey sounds like Ian Kelly and Maynard James Keenan had a love child, and his unique and often unusual vocal melodies are haunting.

It’s difficult to pinpoint highlights of the album, because everyone is going to like this album for different reasons, but I can’t go past the first few tracks on the album. “Promise Part One” is a great opener with unique vocal melodies that sink deep into the skin. “Unturning” has a lot of great riffs and bass lines for those looking for the heavier parts of the album. “Instinct” has a foreboding keyboard intro and one of the strongest choruses (if you can call it that) of the album, and “Womb (In Memoriam)” is one of the most lingering interludes I can think of in recent memory.

For fans of Tool, A Perfect Circle, Opeth’s latest efforts, and Karnivool, Arcane’s Known/Learned is a sonic experience that must be enjoyed first-hand.

About

Benjen is a qualified teacher residing in the south-east suburbs of Perth. Benjen was introduced to hard rock at the age of 12 with Papa Roach's "Love-Hate Tragedy," and has developed a love for hard rock and metal since. He also has a keen interest in gaming and almost every fandom imaginable, from Doctor Who to Deadpool. He can be followed on Twitter @thetoadmode