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Arcane - Ashes CD (album) cover

ASHES

Arcane

 

Heavy Prog

3.23 | 25 ratings

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ScorchedFirth
3 stars (6/10)

Arcane is a band that I came across by using the list/filters function here on ProgArchives to find the 'top' albums from Australia (my glorious birthplace). It's a game I can strongly recommend playing if you're after a diverse range of excellent prog. Anyway, far ahead of all the other releases was a strange looking album, with a strange sounding title, "Chronicles Of The Waking Dream", by a band called Arcane. After many listens, I came to the conclusion that it was absolutely fantastic, so it seemed logical to explore Arcane's previous release, their 2007 debut "Ashes".

Arcane play a strongly metal-edged form of prog, with melodic clean vocals, but with enough sonic variety to get them labelled as heavy prog. You can hear influences ranging from Dream Theater to fellow Australians Karnivool, along with many others. The level of musicianship is good, as you might then expect.

"Ashes" was originally conceived of as just the 24 minute title track, but then expanded into a full album later. To be honest, it is something of a modest start, from a young band clearly bursting with talent, but sometimes being held back by the recording/sound quality. Their skill nonetheless shines through on enough occasions to make this a good album. Occasionally the sound of the keyboard is a bit off, and the guitar also can be a little flat. Jim Grey's singing, however is just full of personality. It is constantly enjoyable, though perhaps a little raw in places, but in a predominantly metallic environment that can work fine. In a few of the instrumental breaks however, it can occasionally sound like an 80s thrash band kidnapped a keyboardist.

Having said all that, what cannot be argued against is the compositions themselves, which are of a generally good standard (I certainly wouldn't consider any of these songs bad). I especially like the epic title track of "Ashes", which really forms the centrepiece of the album. The vocal performance in particular stands out to me, and there are passages where you can really see the band they would soon become.

I would say that it might be interesting to see the band re-record these songs but to be honest I think they can write much stronger material nowadays, and they should focus on getting that out there whenever possible. "Ashes", whilst still intelligent, is an altogether more straightforward release than the epic "Chronicles", which is where Arcane really broke new ground and carved out their own identity. Still, the ambition is there, and the sense of fun is there, certainly enough to interest new fans of the band. Just don't make this your first Arcane album.

ScorchedFirth | 3/5 |

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