I suppose we should state the obvious right at the start. Arcane's third album, Known/Learned is long. I mean really long, with over two hours of music. Thankfully, by necessity, the music was halved between two discs. Unless, of course, you do a digital download, then you'll need to know the division point. I made the mistake of trying to listen to the entire album in one chunk on a winter afternoon.
Not a good idea. Thirty minutes in and I was already lost, swept away by the mountainous volumes of riffage and Jim Grey's ethereal, swooning and, apparently by purpose, unintelligible vocals. Arcane reminds of Muse, only larger and somewhat heavier, at least on the first half. The album is a concept album, but not in the strict sense: something to do with songs about a father and daughter. It's divided into two parts as the title suggests, each consisting of eight songs. The 'Known' half includes the longest song of the bunch, putting 'mammoth' into the definition of an opus. The song Learned is over 23 minutes long of expansive progressive metal. In the most general sense, it encapsulates the core of Arcane's sound and compositional style. You could listen to this one song and have effectively heard the entire album. And there's the rub. There's so much music here, it's difficult to speak specifically about any one element or song.
We can note that 'Known' takes a heavier approach, definitely swaying towards prog metal. The riffs are immense, the drums rumbling, the bass thumping. Unturning and Selfsame are two of the heaviest pieces here. However, Holding Atropos offers a light acoustic respite in midpoint. The 'Learned' dials things down to more lighter melodic rock, featuring more piano and acoustic guitar, and then wrapped in Arcane's ethereal ambience. It's a decided contrast to the first half, with some purpose I'm supposing. You certainly wouldn't know from the lyrics because, even in a lighter context, you still can't understand a thing Grey's saying. To be fair, the 'Learned' half has some heavier songs with Hunter Heart & Home and the latter half of Keeping Stone Water Awake. It appears the former song is more of transition piece between the two musical halves.
In the end, Known/Learned is an immense and ambitious work of progressive music, one that will take some time to consume, but will likely reward those who persevere. However, it's something I won't tackle again without some forethought and better time management.
Arcane's Known/Learned is an immense and ambitious work of progressive music, one that will take some time to consume, but will likely reward those who persevere.
Mat Sinner is both an icon and legend in the German, and the larger European, hard rock and heavy metal scene. Cranking out music since 1982, Sinner is an industrious and prolific musician and producer whether through his namesake band, the heavy metal heroes Primal ... [ Read More ]