Holy Fire

foals-holy-fire-480x480When Foals first hit the scene with debut album Antidote you would have been hard done by to spot anything about them that separated them from the bland indie scene, they broke out with hit single Cassius a song with a chorus so catchy it still haunts my mind, going back to these, quite frankly, boring album its incredibly hard to understand what happened when they followed it up with the superb Total Life Forever. Their second album garnered a Mercury nomination and took the band to a whole new level in the industry, creating songs so beautifully layered the more you listen to them the more you get from them. As Holy Fire is released next Monday the question left to answer is whether that album was just a fluke or whether Foals can continue to push boundaries and rise in power atop the indie scene.

The first single from Holy Fire was release a few months back, Inhaler is a power punch of a tune taking the signature rippling guitars from Total Life Forever and combining them with grunged-up Black Keys style riffs, it is one of the best songs I’ve heard in years. On the album there’s one track that surpasses even though; the juggernaut that is Providence follows a similar structure to Inhaler but the stops and starts make the excitement multiply even more. The rest of the tracks are more similar to the calm nature of their previous album but still have a bit more of a bite. There’s much more distortion to be found here amongst the masterfully produced layered guitar sounds making for a similar sound but ultimately making the album slightly more raw and gritty perhaps signalling the band might move into a more rock-y root in their future.

While I wish not to like Foals because they all seem like twats really, its impossible to deny that they are creating music of the highest quality around today. Holy Fire beats Total Life Forever at its own game and the two tracks I’ve spoken about show how much pent up potential is still within them waiting to come out, I’ve got my fingers crossed that the heavier route is the direction these guys choose to take these twats know their shit.

 

Wolf’s Law

542632_10151281327235783_91241549_nIf you’ve been a reader of the blog you might have read my last post on The Joy Formidable which you should be able to find on the band plug page. It’s been a couple of years now since the band burst on to the scene with their debut The Big Roar, a record which shattered my expectations and make me take notice of the Welsh three piece who pack a lot more bite than the majority of indie bands out there. Last week the group returned with their second album Wolf’s Law.

The albums got a lot of similarities with their last one, juxtaposing grungy riffs with more awkward indie sensibilities and again this record really does pack a punch. It’s not hard to see why these guys are now regarded so highly. My personal favourite tracks are the heavier ones in particular The Maw Maw Song which feels like the closest thing they’ve got to match some of the best tracks on their first album. But ultimately when compared to their debut Wolf’s Law just doesn’t quite match up for me. When The Big Roar came out I’d never heard of these guys and they demanded that I listened to them, over and over again. With Wolf’s Law I haven’t felt that again, I’ve enjoyed, I’ve listened to it a few times but it’s not grabbed my attention enough and it’s release date was a stupid one being one week before the new Biffy and three before Foals two very similar but more established bands. Wolf’s Law is good but it’s not great.

 

Opposites

biffy-clyro-oppositesThe time has finally come, if you’ve been following the blog you will have seen that in the build up to this release I’ve been reviewing all of Biffy Clyro’s albums and now we come full circle; to the reason all this hype began, the Scottish trios new double LP Opposites. Now the only question left to answer is whether the album lives up to expectations?

Everything kicks off with Different People which starts off softly before bursting into a windy, ripply guitar heavy track, its a strong opener that sets a tone for the whole record which makes a point of mixing light and shade, obviously reflected in the title. One of the big claims the band made in the build up to the album was that it should have material to keep the old and the new fans happy, effectively incorporate all their previous styles into this one record. On first listen it may be that this album is a million miles away from their old stuff but on repeat listens it becomes clearer that there’s sprinkles of their old heaviness throughout. Black Chandelier for example features a solo that wouldn’t have been out of place on Infinity Land. There’s bits that sound like Blackened Sky too, the chanty choruses of Picture a Knife Fight or Victory Over the Sun. The orchestral elements that have been a part of the band’s work since Vertigo of Bliss is apparent in Opposites in it’s most complete form yet making it the most epic sounding album they’ve ever made surpassing even Puzzle which was their previous best in terms of scale.There’s improvements on the poppy sounding pieces familiar to that of Only Revolutions Little Hospitals being a one example and one of my favourite tracks of the whole album.

When stacked up against all their old albums I think Opposites stands up very well among all the bands previous efforts perhaps not reaching the heights of their masterpiece to date, Infinity Land, but certainly improving on both Only Revolutions and Puzzle and there is certainly more here for fans of the old stuff, with Opposites the choice to have it as a double album has really worked in the bands favour giving them the opportunity to put out a more holistic record painting a more complete picture than their last effort. Biffy have done it again.

 

Only Revolutions

OnlyRevolutionsSo Biffy Clyro’s new double album, Opposites, will be upon us in exactly twenty days meaning the time has come to review their last studio effort, Only Revolutions and thus leave you with a review on every Biffy album to date. Released back in 2009 Only Revolutions had the almighty challenge of following up the bands most successful album, Puzzle, making it their first release as a huge commercial band. They had the task of pleasing their old fans and new ones in an album that was expected to be a big commercial success.

It has since become the bands biggest selling record further cracking the mainstream and bringing the Scottish trio to the forefront of British music. It received good press as well, the album has a score of 79 on Metacritic and was nominated for the Mercury Prize in its year of release which further boosted its sales. Despite all this, though, I have to say it is my least favourite album of theirs. My friends who knew back when this came out may call a hypocrite now because when it came out I made a rather rash statement that it was their best but like me explain how my mind has changed over time.

Biffy’s first three albums all had a much more raw underground sound that gave their music a lot more depth making it more rewarding on repeat listens. With Puzzle a lot of their more heavy sounds were no longer present but the record itself worked as a whole better than anything they’d done before which sort of made up for the lack of hard rock. Only Revolutions on the other hand, seems as if the heavier stuff is still missing and the album is not as much a complete piece as Puzzle feels. It is their only album of theirs which has some dud tracks such as Many of Horror and Know Your Quarry both of which are bland and far too normal to portray Biffy’s famous awkwardness, perhaps pushing the band in a more mainstream less interesting direction. Having said that there are tracks here as well that are quite the opposite fully showing how weird the group can be making for much more interesting and unique listening, Born on a Horse, Cloud of Stink and Whorses for example but all of which still lack the real visceral punch that was present on Infinity Land and its predecessors. It comes as a surprise as well that despite said tracks giving you a bit more of a taste of authentic Biffy the stand-out track is the acoustic track God and Satan a song which features some of Simon Neill’s most interesting lyrics to date but it seems a shame that a band I previously loved for their heavy tracks have lost a certain edge making the album as a whole feel disappointing.

From some things I’ve heard from Opposites I think we can expect a good mix of old and new Biffy styles, perhaps the choice to make it a double album will provide the band enough scope to fully flesh out both of their creative sides, perhaps Opposites could be the bands true masterpiece, we shall have to wait and see, watch this space for my review once the album’s out…

 

Blackened Sky

 

Biffy Clyro have, in recent years, become one of Britains’ most celeberated bands but this week I’ve decided to go back to their roots and go part of the way to explaining why they are one of my favourite bands. Biffy’s debut album Blackened Sky is, in my view, one of the most underrated albums of the last few decades.

It’s obviously a much more raw sounding record from what you would expect of the Biff nowadays but that’s where it works. The songs move from rusty melodies into meaty riffs and awkward screams which in future albums would come to define the band their. Some of the groups best songs can be found on this album ‘Justboy’, and ’57’ probably being the most well known but there are even better ones to be found that you may not have heard of, ‘Christopher’s River’ being a personal favourite. The album doesn’t have the gloss of Only Revolutions or Puzzle nor the experimental side of Veritgo of Bliss or Infintiy Land but it has it’s own charm that none of their other records have captured. This album deserves so much more praise than it gets, it’s an awesome debut for one of the greatest bands that are around right now.