Arcane Roots - Melancholia Hymns album review

Alt-prog Londoners Arcane Roots spread their creative wings

Arcane Roots - Melancholia Hymns album artwork

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The way Arcane Roots begin their second full‑length album is telling, as they eschew an explosive ‘here we are again’ approach in favour of a slow-burning ambient squall that has more to do with My Bloody Valentine than Muse. When the song eventually bursts into melodic life, it reveals a band that have plainly grown in confidence. The Londoners’ uncanny ability to straddle prog, alternative rock and tech metal remains intact throughout Melancholia Hymns, but this is a deeper and more measured record than its predecessor, full of elegant dynamic shifts, atmospheric charm and tunes that are as insidious as they are off-kilter. Recent singles Matter and Curtains are both belters: full of urgency and glowering portent, their refined sense of drama and an underlying rush of hazy distortion adding a delicate sense of the other‑worldly to what could have been more straightforward indie rock tunes. The finest moments – the beautiful Indigo, the grandeur of Solemn – are stunning and point to a fascinating future. Clearly thrilled by their own creative freedom, Arcane Roots are dispensing with any easy categories here, while making music that could easily make them superstars. Clever sods.

Dom Lawson

Dom Lawson has been writing for Metal Hammer and Prog for over 14 years and is extremely fond of heavy metal, progressive rock, coffee and snooker. He also contributes to The Guardian, Classic Rock, Bravewords and Blabbermouth and has previously written for Kerrang! magazine in the mid-2000s.