Arcane Roots, Gold Key: Arts Club Loft, Liverpool

Arcane Roots

Arcane Roots

On a night that was frustrating and thrilling by near equal measures, GetintothisDavid Hall spent time in the company of Arcane Roots, to see what seeds they would plant.

Whoops. Well, we were late. Shit.

Look, we know it’s not the most professional-sounding thing, but in our own defence a 7pm start for a support band is ridiculously early. That’s barely enough time to get home from work and get back out in time to catch the support act.

Fair enough, it seems like the early start was due to one band on the bill dropping out at short notice. But still, by the time we rocked up at 7:30, Gold Key were long gone. Which is unfair on them, quite frankly.

Meanwhile, Londoners Arcane Roots took to the stage much later than their touted 8pm slot, but quickly proved themselves more than worth the wait.

Their latest full-length offering Melancholia Hymns has had a month to bed in, so album opener Before Me doubled as a set opener in Liverpool. A Sigur Ros style maelstrom of smouldering synthesized strings that took on a kind of latter day Aereogramme widescreen sensibility; the packed Arts Club approved.

Following Melancholia Hymns‘ tracklisting, follow-up Matter achieved blast off following up the slow burn of Before Me, achieving escape trajectory with its frenzied riff and screamed outro.

Liverpool Halloween gigs and events guide – what’s on around Merseyside

Influences like Porcupine Tree, Three Trapped Tigers and even early Biffy Clyro gradually wormed their way to the surface in an eclectic set that was never without slickness, but also had a fair share of eyebrow-searingly intense moments. There’s a lot to the three piece’s new album, passages that would even sound stadium sized to Muse, while the more outstanding parts retain the blistering heaviness of their early work.

As if to illustrate that point, Slow whetted the crowd’s appetite for older material while Sacred Shapes‘ mathcore-influenced insanity probably provided the evening’s highlight. The lynchpin of the band’s 2013 album Blood & Chemistry barelled through bludgeoning breakdowns and screamed vocals to kick off a moshpit in the middle of the Arts Club Loft that Leaving kept going.

New tracks like Off the Floor bared more teeth than their recorded incarnations, and those in the crowd wanting blood and thunder had their wish granted.

Throughout the set, Arcane Roots‘ new material translated well live. If there’s one criticism to be levelled at the new album, it would be its fondness for stately mood pieces.  At times they don’t feel like they quite go for the jugular readily enough. That could definitely come off as hammy live, but those songs were either steered clear of this or were  beefed up. It was a well-judged set for the audience, with single Indigo taking its place as a mood builder.

The set was closed with the mathy If Nothing Breaks, Nothing Moves, a giant circle pit opening up in the centre of the dancefloor, sending limbs, teeth and drinks flying.

Coming away from the Arts Club with the night still young and having only seen one band instead of a promised three, we could never characterise Arcane Roots as masters of timing. But what we did see was intense and impressive.

Photos by GetintothisKevin Barrett