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Arcane - Known/Learned CD (album) cover

KNOWN/LEARNED

Arcane

 

Heavy Prog

3.89 | 248 ratings

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Second Life Syndrome
Prog Reviewer
4 stars 4.5 stars

Australian prog will soon rule the world. I'm convinced of this. There are so many wonderful progressive bands coming out of Australia right now, but, for my money, Arcane is the greatest of all. Arcane crowdfunded this new album "Known/Learned", and, what an album it is!! As you may have suspected, "Known/Learned" is a double album of epic proportions, complete with a darkness/light theme, a heavy disc (Known) and a softer one (Learned), and emotional lyrics. Indeed, the insights explored lyrically in this album are quite heavy and deep. So, this being their third album, how does Arcane fare? Can they really pull off an album in excess of 130 minutes?

The answer is a definitive "yes". I'm incredibly impressed with the grace, maturity, and compositional tightness with which this massive album was created. The band is: Jim Grey on vocals, Michael Gagen on guitars, Matt Martin on keyboards, and Blake Coulson on drums. Due to losing their bassist, the band recruited the bassists from Dead Letter Opener and Ne Obliviscaris to record the bass lines. Anyways, these musicians are clearly talented on a high level. Michael's guitars are stuttering brilliance, and the rhythm sections on both albums are massive successes, especially Blake's mad drumming. Jim's vocals, however, are on a level of their own. This guy has the range, the tone, and the lungs to out-sing just about anyone. From quiet, beauteous moments to blaring monuments, Jim Grey makes this double album work. Need convincing? Listen to "Womb".

Arcane has a rather distinctive sound that carries on in this double album. On "Known", soaring melodies crash straight into hefty riffs and incredible polyrhythmic instrumentals with results that aren't quite metal, but could certainly be called that. "Known" is a joy from start to finish, with an opening track that grabs your attention, "Promise [Part 2]". In fact, when my wife and I heard it for the first time, we looked at each other in jawdropping amazement. "Known" starts out, then, with definitive, perfect Arcane---exactly what we were hoping. The album continues on with solid tracks, including the amniotic silence of "Womb" and the greatness of the 20+ minute epic "Learned". In fact, the latter has one of the best closing five minutes that I've heard in some time. Catchy, impressive on a technical level, and always sublime, "Known" is near to a masterpiece. If I have any complaints, it is that the album may drag a bit in some of the longer tracks, but that is nitpicking at best.

"Learned" is a much different album. Dropping the technical feats of the previous album, "Learned" explores a more human, delicate side to the band. In fact, it's much more relatable and personal, as the band isn't hiding behind a wall of sound, so to speak. The album begins strongly with "Hunter, Heart & Home", featuring a consistent and addictive melody. Other strong tracks include "Nightingale's Weave", which loops and spins around your mind precariously; and "Impatience and Slow Poison", which has that slow building effect that can be so incredible. "Learned" is a strong album by itself, and it honestly doesn't need "Known" at all.

Had Arcane given me either "Known" OR "Learned" for my hard-earned cash, I would have been immensely satisfied. As it is, the band has given me two incredible albums that will certainly top their previous albums in my mind. It isn't often that one can find a band with such finesse and maturity in playing combined with top-notch vocals and deep lyrics. Arcane really is the full package, and I hope that the inspiration keeps flowing freely.

Second Life Syndrome | 4/5 |

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