The Opposite of Absolution – 30.01.13

So I’ve failed to write three posts this week and still not managed to do my weekly update on time but I will definitely try and get four done before Wednesday, fingers crossed. So the first was one of my most anticipated albums of 2013 Biffy’s new double album, Opposites. Then I got round to reviewing the game I’ve been playing most recently Hitman: Absolution so please leave any comments you may have on either.

As I right this I’m fresh of the heels of seeing Zero Dark Thirty so I’ll leave you with the trailer and expect the review this week:

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.

 

Die Space Django! – 23.01.13

So after managing to do two blog posts this afternoon I am just about getting my weekly update on time, think I should be able to get schedule better this next week. So first of all this week there was, of course, the new Tarantino film, Django Unchained get reading that one and please leave any comments you may have on it. Next I wrote a post on a group that I have been being intrigued hugely by for the last few weeks, the bizarre Die Antwoord. The finally I did I quick sum-up of how much I enjoyed playing Dead Space 2. Hope you enjoy reading all of those.

This week I’ll leave you with a choice because I’ve got two exciting albums to review in the next seven days, the first is The Joy Formidable’s Wolf’s Law and the second is Biffy Clyro’s Opposites so here’s a song from each, watch this space:

Fear Revolution Squad – 16.01.13

I better start by apologising for basically taking a week off from blogging but it was my birthday so what are you gonna do about it? I have, though, over two weeks managed to give you a nice spread of media reviews. They kicked off with my review of Channel 4’s recent mini-series The Fear. Which was followed by Only Revolutions which completed my reviewing of all Biffy’s albums, watch this space for my review of their new album Opposites which is out in just over a week. Then finally we moved back on to movies with my review of Gangster Squad.

Well please do look around the blog and any comments you may have are greatly appreciated. Today I’ll leave you with Arnie:

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…

 

The Vertigo of Bliss

 

Since all my last few posts have been film reviews and there has been a lack of interesting albums released in the last few weeks I thought I’d take the time to review an old album, furthermore, since a moth or so back I reviewed Biffy Clyro’s debut Blackened Sky I thought I’d further my back catalogue with a review of their follow-up, 2003’s Vertigo of Bliss. Aka the one with the woman fingering herself on the cover. Anyway, slightly bizarre artwork aside, let’s talk about the music.

The Vertigo of Bliss is a much more experimental album than it’s predecessor and it is, arguably, the first time Biffy manage to get themselves a unique signature sound, not discounting any good qualities of the first record, I love that album, but this is where things start to get a bit more special. Introducing  very disjointed sounds and a lot more screaming, with Vertigo of Bliss Biffy Clyro use their skilful instrumentalism to spring board off into an album that spreads into the unknown. It’s clear the band are starting to feel much more comfortable to do something more risky, add some punch and throw in some more unpredictability.  There are parts of songs that don’t even sound connected to the last section but rather than being un-listenable it somehow, on some sub conscious level, works.

It’s not 100% madness though, there are moments of real thoughtfulness on this record. Questions and Answers for example is not quite so experimental it is much more thoughtful lyrically, and much more standard musically and is one of the albums stand out tracks. Toys toys toys, choke toys toys toys is obviously the one most people remember from this album and that is perhaps the most mainstream sounding track on here, it shows a band with a great diversity though, and in many ways Toys toys toys… encompasses all the different elements that have been tossed together in the songs of this album.

As a summary of my relationship with the record I have to say, the more mainstream songs I don’t like as much as the ones on Blackened Sky whereas the more experimental tracks I don’t enjoy quite as much as the ones on Infinity Land, but Vertigo of Bliss still has something going for it. Whether it’s just an interesting album that bridges the creative gap in between Blackened Sky and Infinity Land or if it has a complete charm of it’s own I could never decide. But it is nonetheless one that everyone should listen to.

P.S. I’m excited very much for Opposites, watch this space for more Biffy reviews