This past week saw Arcade Messiah unveil its third album in as many years, each a November treat instantly challenging thoughts on best of year nominations. III is a mighty continuation of that trend, a release where imagination might not be rampant in its title but in its kaleidoscope of suggestive sound and inventive flavours, it simply ignites ears and thoughts.
Arcade Messiah is the solo project of Sligo based songwriter/multi-instrumentalist/producer John Bassett, the founder and driving force of the outstanding UK band KingBathmat. It is a true solo effort with every detail the imagination, creation, and work of Bassett, all apart from the art of III which sprung from the craft of Michael Kerbow. Arcade Messiah has persistently taken ears through a myriad of sonic and powerfully evocative landscapes, pushing the union of creator and listener’s imaginations to new heights. III unsurprisingly is no different to its predecessor, exploring a new depth in textures and invention which just lights up mind and spirit.
To simplify things, Bassett weaves his music from the merger of everything from post and stoner rock to doom, sludge, and metal doom. It is still a narrow description of his sound which defies labels yet openly embraces inspirations whilst turning them into something inescapably unique to Arcade Messiah. Like a melodic siren with the growl and intensity of a bear, his instrumental endeavours to date have fascinated and consumed ears and mind alike; III as mentioned does not deviate from that success. It is though, the heaviest, most compelling and exhilarating offering from the man yet. Across six tracks, the album is creatively ravenous, melodically seductive, and often emotionally irritable and quite bewitching.
It opens up with Revolver, a prowling slice of heavy metal with an air of Sabbath to it which is soon entangling ears in a net of melodic and sonic intrigue. Rhythms barge through the maze of sound, imposing on the senses with poise and aggression as guitars weave their web. The first surprise is the sudden expulsion of vocals from Bassett, they more a texture than an attention stealer but carrying a clarity as ripe and potent as the cauldron of sounds around them. Simultaneously confrontational and welcoming, the track continues to disturb and beguile like a dramatic carousel.
It is a glorious start swiftly backed by the bestial presence of Citadel, a lumbering slab of crawling doom which looms up over the senses, submerging them in its sludgy tar before veins of melodic enterprise and emotive grace wrap around body and imagination. Dark and dangerous, alluring and captivating, the song gets under the skin and into the psyche; its aural scenery an irresistible adventure to navigate and explore.
At over ten minutes, Deliverance is an epic proposal which devours time with its craft and magnetism. From a gentle opening as warm as it is melancholic with guitars and keys entwining with earthbound celestial beauty, the piece brews a darker side. Striding rhythms are the first deceptive shadow, again a sure invitation with a portentous edge though their threat merely simmers for its first third. Eventually though there is no holding back the energy and intensity of the skirting shadows, their fiery eruption the spark to a lava flow of melody and carnivorous energy. It is impossible not to get lost in the depths and suggestiveness of the track, the imagination casting its pictures and tales as the track continues to ebb and flow in touch and creative fire, perpetually burning its presence into appetite and spirit while captivating with its variety of attack.
It is impossible to pick a best track, all providing unique aspects and characters to immerse in, but the song certainly makes a highly persuasive argument as too its successor Life Clock. Washing over the senses with its space rock like atmosphere and fertile layers courted by the dark lures of bass and beats, the track is another femme fatale resembling encounter luring ears onto its ravenous rhythmic rocks and predacious intensity which lay in wait as the track builds its apocalyptic climax.
Once consumed, the song makes way for the Hades like realm of Black Tree; another predatory piece which stalks and infests with a seductive prowess as powerful as its acrimonious side, both having their moments to make their case across the outstanding trespass. Of course this and every track will inspire a scenario and emotion unique to the individual, one of the many glorious aspects of the Arcade Messiah tapestries.
III closes with the relative calm and peace of Sanctuary, though it too has tempestuousness to its heart and touch which only fires up the senses and imagination as Bassett casts another canvas of melodic suggestion, sonic rabidity, and all that lies between.
III is glorious, a riveting slice of aural alchemy which should not surprise considering the strength and prowess of its creator and predecessors but does at every twist and turn. Time to take another look at those End Of Year lists folks.
III is out now on Stereohead Records @ https://arcademessiah.bandcamp.com
Pete RingMaster 30/11/2016
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