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Arachnoid - Arachnoid CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.86 | 146 ratings

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Italian Prog Specialist
4 stars More tentative, reserved and creeping than most symphonic prog, Arachnoid melt down and break up the symphonic idiom into a more oppressive, suggestive and spacey world of their own.

Focusing on dynamics and obtuse atmosphere-driven instrumental passages, regardless if they are more rocking or ethereal, it has a fairly unique, vocal-sparse sound and a vigorous hybrid identity that is instantly recognizable. You will find some attention-grabbing outbursts of angular and buzzing guitar and full-on symphonic assault, but that's not really what it's about. It is rarely pretty, the sounds coming together in swirling, wavering and rumbling madness, but maintaining a rather strong melodic integrity. Often, the tossing and turning liveliness takes place in a cocoon of thick, bleak and sticky atmosphere that manages to be very intense and commanding while only hanging on to reality by a tread. It feels pleasingly confused and unstable in how it all comes together, without ever really disintegrating. That balance act might just be the best thing about the album, making it feel very much alive and pleasingly surprising in a twisted organic fashion. Occasionally there is a smidgen or two of dark lite-fusion and cold, snarling and wheezing avant tendencies that sets it apart from the symphonic mainstream and nudge the album further into wonderful asylum territory.

You will often find a bubbling concoction of keyboards and guitar that simmer like hot black oil beneath the compositions, often enough with a feeling of rapidly impending doom. Shape-shifting keyboards whirl and hover alongside a similarly busy but indefinable guitar. Lucent electric piano notes and chords come and go like bright spots here and there, enriching as well as undermining the whole harmonic and melodic structure of the pieces. A discordant, fuzzed-up guitar riff or some naked and idiosyncratic picking get working on making the experience a bit more physical and edgy and things then build upon that via involved, but very disciplined and somewhat low-key percussion. Fire-and-brimstone keyboard attacks come and go, at times bouncing a contrasting and rather beautiful melody against unforgiving guitar onslaught. Their main focus can just as easily be to stir up trouble in spacey insanity. At times the mist lifts, revealing some beautiful and sombre rollicking piano or even a bit of flute and more gentle and forgiving guitars and keys, but that's more of an exception than a rule, being just shorter interludes in the menacing whole. They rarely let go of the reins completely, focusing on generating a disciplined chaos with a keen sense of dynamics, letting the compositions develop in a cleverly and nicely dysfunctional way.

A thoroughly good album, but a few lows and the scarcity of proper highs in the generally high-class and genuinely exquisite atmosphere keeps it from achieving greatness. Should be a very welcome addition in any collection that prefers symphonic prog as something dirtied up, twisted and dark.

4 stars.


LinusW | 4/5 |


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