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Arcane: Known/Learned

Double-disc prog metal fun from Down Under.

It’s not even spring yet, but Arcane may have already delivered one of the most value-for-money records of 2015.

The third album from the Brisbane prog metallers is a salubrious two-disc effort, unashamedly sprawling itself over two hours, with a 23-minute opus slap-bang in the middle of it all. The 16 tracks here don’t really tread new paths – genre gurus Dream Theater and Haken have already blazed through in a storm of dust – but there’s an enthralling soulful sensitivity amid the fretboard flurry and rock chops, one that’s rare among this band’s peers. For every chunk of grand, fist-clenching distortion like Unturning there’s a Womb (In Memoriam) – an ethereal rumination – or Holding Atropos, a lilting prog ballad. The music on the second disc is more mellow than metal. Billed as a tale of ‘fragmented moments in the lives of a father and his daughter’, it cools off after a captivating, dynamic opening. There are subtle cap-doffs to Tool and Anathema at times, and the quintet do an ear-prickingly stellar job of keeping things stimulating throughout. It’s a lot to swallow, but like your grandmother used to say: chew slowly, take your time, and you shall be rewarded.