28 May 2017

Arcite - As the Fire Takes Hold

Now, over the years my love of metal has pitched, waned, risen and fell again with the regularity of the sea in a storm.  There have been times I have not really been after new metal music, but I have really been awaiting this album.  It has been four years since Newcastle based Metalcore act Arcite released their debut album, 'The Escape Key' (our review cleverly linked here) and they have been doing quite well for themselves.  They have been playing a lot of gigs with some very big metal names such as Exodus, the Devin Townsend Project, The Defiled, Soulfly and others.  Whilst live gigs are a great opportunity for new songs to be tested, I have been waiting patiently for a new album.  Thankfully, Arcite have been busy recording this album, which will be released on 1st June 2017.  For me, as I have been looking forward to this one is for a while, I am sort of scared that I have built it up too much in my mind.  So, I approach this album trying to keep my expectations low (which can be hard when listening to new music I have been excited about), but equally expecting good things from Arcite here.  Well, there is only one way to find out how this album sounds......

01 - What Lies Ahead

The album starts off in a familiar fashion for a metalcore album, the music fades in with a chanting group vocal taking about fading away.  Once the song starts it is a massive barrage of noise, riffs, pounding drums, thumping bass and that shouting/clear vocal contrast which defines the genre.  It moves at a frantic pace, never resting and it introduces the album in a perfect fashion for a metalcore album, with a hugely engaging piece that will start a circle pit in your mind and keeps on improving with each subsequent listen.

02 - New Foundations

Next is the acoustic track.... just kidding, it is more metalcore goodness in the form of 'New Foundations' which sounds thunderous.  It has slow and grinding sections, faster verses that have a groove metal feeling in places.  It is a brilliant number, very engaging and works best when played at ear bleeding volume.

03 - Fear Itself

'Fear Itself' is a song about anxiety, the feeling of dread and the hatred of yourself at times when you have no need to.  This is a powerful number in more ways than one, as you will be able to identify with pieces of this song if you have ever suffered anxiety before.  I love the riff on this song, the words are brilliant, the guitars, drum, bass, vocals - everything on this song is powerful and it is one of the best songs on the album.  This is the sort of song that shows the world (and myself) what I love about metal the most, when it is right, it is on the fucking button!

04 - The Risk

We are introduced to another fast pace metal by Arcite, a standard mosh-pit inducing number that hits all the right places and has another great riff that runs through the whole song.  There actually is an acoustic guitar used on this song (only briefly) which breaks the song up nicely, giving you a chance to breath so they can start the assault on your mind and body once again.  It is a frantic piece, a hungry piece and it is one that gets better with each listen.

05 - Carriers

With another frantic riff and harmonics, 'Carriers' is another fast-paced number which has a relentless feeling to the riff and overall performance from Arcite.  It is a good song, but one that does not spark the excitement level as much as other tracks on the album.  But, it is still one that I can see going down well on their live sets, it has all the tools to create a mosh pit at a moment’s notice.

06 - The Gallery Effect

'The Gallery Effect' adds a melodic tone to the sound of Arcite, taking the pace down a notch for dramatic effect.  It is the expected slower, more reflective number that is used so the band can catch a breath and this will be welcome by the listener as well.  It is still frantic in places, but there is more depth in here than people will realise at first glance.  I love the performance here, it feels like they are containing the beast, soothing it for later and still sounding dominantly heavy.

07 - Hail Mary

'Hail Mary' is back to the fast and frantic verses and dramatic, slower, grinding chorus section, a pause for the bridge and then a barrage of sound that culminates in a huge ending than slows down for a poignant ending.  It is a good number, well performed and with a sense of sadness to some of the lyrics.

08 - Icarus

Acting as a short interlude of sorts, 'Icarus' slows things down with an electronic based performance that would not sound out of place on an Anathema album and it has a slight prog influence in the mix.  I like this song, it is a great number and for my money I would have had this song ending the album.

09 - Masks

I like it when a riff can make you smile, just for being slightly (for want of a better word) cheeky.  'Masks' has a great riff on the verses, it sounds quick and intense which infects the rest of the song.  The subject deals with the internal struggle that a lot of people deal with, something that is a real battle for people when they have to hide behind a brave face all the time.  The song is brilliant, just one of the best on this album and one that will hopefully be kept as part of their set for years to come.

10 - Lament

The penultimate song of this album is a grinding number that feels as if it has drama at its heart and it goes for the jugular at time.  The pace is intense and it does everything you would want from a slow, grinding metalcore number.  Another good song on this album which is sadly coming to a close. 

11 - My Will Is as Strong as Yours and My Kingdom as Great

Once again, we have a progressive metal influence shown from Arcite, with a slow and calculated pace shown on 'My Will Is as Strong as Yours and My Kingdom as Great'.  The title seems to have been taken from the film Labyrinth, but I do not think it is based on that film.  Now, I can see why it was picked as the last song of the album, but I would have changed it with 'Icarus' as has a better pace for ending track for my money.  I am not saying that 'My Will Is as Strong....' is a poor song, quite the opposite.  It is a really good song with sense of drama, heavy sections that thunder along, brilliant vocals and a thunderous ending that makes sense for ending the album.  Just for my money, I would have changed it around.

I love it when an album rekindles your passion for a genre, albums that do that make the world an interest place.  Overall, this is a great follow up album, one that takes all the positives of 'The Escape Key' and runs with them.  It is a metalcore album with progressive undertones, smash and grab when required and it will have mosh-pits opening before the introduction of each song has started and continuing long after the feedback has finished.  With each song, you can hear small improvements to the overall sound of the band, they have been putting in the effort since there last record.  And the reward for that work, for all these improvements is that it all adds up into one huge leap forward which was what I was hoping for from Arcite.  Any sticking points?  Well, nothing that is detrimental to the overall feeling of the album or about the performance from Arcite, the only thing that sticks out is the choice of ending track as 'Icarus' would have worked better in my opinion.  But as I point out, it is a personal taste thing and not down to the quality of the music or the tracks picked by the band.  This is a great album which will hopefully take Arcite to the next level, this is going to be viewed as one of the best metal albums of 2017 in years to come.

8 out of ten - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my time, money and heart.

Top track - The Gallery Effect

You can pre-order the digital version of As the Fire Takes Hold on Amazon here.

You can pre-order As the Fire Takes Hold on the Arcite Big Cartel page here.

You can follow the activities of Arcite on Facebook here.

At the time of writing, As the Fire Takes Hold has not been released on Spotify. Once it is on this service, you will be able to stream it here on the Arcite Spotify page.

At the time of writing, As the Fire Takes Hold has not been released on Deezer. Once it is on this service, you will be able to stream it here on the Arcite Deezer page.

At the time of writing, As the Fire Takes Hold has not been released on Tidal. Once it is on this service, you will be able to stream it here on the Arcite Tidal page.

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