John Bassett doesn’t rest on his laurels. Just a year ago the KingBathmat man released the first album as Arcade Messiah, his one-man, instrumental project.
It was an incendiary affair that delved deep into doom and celebrating the darker edge of prog metal (the psych-driven ’Bathmat was fading into memory). His second affair, cunningly entitled Arcade Messiah II, largely treads the same path, concocting expansive images of industrial apocalypse through roaming, post-rock riffs and minor key majesty. It’s another bag of tricks from Englishman Bassett, with the runaway Red Widow snaking through moments of murky axework and wistful melody, while Fourth Quarter wouldn’t sound out of place in Mastodon’s boisterous back catalogue. Despite the many highs, it doesn’t quite have the same curious charm as Arcade Messiah’s debut, but proggers should unite in joy at the CD version’s final track, a cover of Aphrodite Child’s The Four Horsemen. The thing is, this is nearly 19 minutes long, mutating the more modest original and pulling it apart like a musical Stretch Armstrong. It’s an exciting end to an exciting album that is at times deep, daring and deserves multiple listens.