INTERVIEW: Arcane Roots | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Kingston-upon-Thames three-piece Arcane Roots are a band who have become synonymous with the UK’s heavy music scene. For them to incorporate a dramatic new element into their sound seems like quite a big risk to take, yet Arcane Roots are a band who constantly strive to push things forward, and whose sound has always spanned several genres, blending technical, progressive metal with math-rock, indie and big pop hooks.

Having added electronic elements into the mix on their latest release isn’t really too outrageous a prospect. “We always knew that Melancholia Hymns was going to be a curve ball as it is pretty different to our previous releases,” says bassist Adam Burton. “We always like to push ourselves and don’t mind taking risks, so these newer elements were something we thought we could bring to our song writing to expand our sound and make everything sonically bigger and better. Maybe maturity and getting older has some part to play, but mainly just being musically open to everything was probably the biggest reason for this.”

Writing for Melancholia Hymns was definitely more difficult than writing for our previous records

Despite having been a band for over ten years, Melancholia Hymns is only the trio’s second full length record, although they’ve released several EPs and mini albums. Their debut album, Blood And Chemistry, was a complex beast of a rock record that propelled the band full-throttle into sharing stages with the likes of Biffy Clyro and Muse, and onto the bills at huge festivals like Download and Sonisphere.

Though the colossal riffs are still present, Melancholia Hymns is much more nuanced, with the addition of electronica and soaring post-rock atmospherics, demonstrated from the off with the shimmering synths of opener Before Me. “Writing for Melancholia Hymns was definitely more difficult than writing for our previous records,” says Burton. “Primarily due to the new electronic elements like synthesisers and electronic drums. We had to learn how to use these elements to serve a song, how to incorporate them whilst still keeping them within an ‘Arcane Roots’ style of song writing. Blood & Chemistry was written in a very traditional way with the three of us in a rehearsal room, whereas Melancholia Hymns was written a lot more at home, where we would send each other parts individually.”

Synths and electronic drums may seem at odds with their underground, math-rock roots, but Arcane Roots have managed to seamlessly blend the two to create a record that appeals to newer audiences without alienating their older fans. Take Matter, the second single from the album as an example, where skittering, glacial beats are interlaced with huge primal drums and break-neck riffs. “It can be difficult to combine the heavier parts with the more melodic side. We are fans of both these things, so it’s just a case of seeing what works. We weren’t afraid to sacrifice something, be it a riff or a melody, if it wasn’t right for the song even though it may have been a part we really liked. There are still the ‘math-rock’ parts but the trick is to hide them and make it seem as though the song is less difficult than it seems. For a long time it felt that we were just a band that other bands liked, but in terms of breaking into the mainstream and promoting ourselves, especially through radio, it never really happened. But with Melancholia Hymns that seems to have changed. We’ve had incredible support which we’re extremely grateful for.”

Arcane Roots play Sage Gateshead on Tuesday 27th February.

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