Arcane - 'Known-Learned' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     September 27, 2015    
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An ambitious, impressively presented, two disc conceptual work.

'Known–Learned' is the third album from Aussie Progressive Metal band Arcane. It's an ambitious, impressively presented, two disc conceptual work that depicts "fragmented moments in the lives of a father and his daughter, their loss, their love, their journey" and offers us "a bittersweet love song for life".

Clocking in at a touch over two hours, it's a weighty album that both requires and rewards repeated listens. It was made possible by a crowd funding campaign launched in July 2013 and has been mastered by Troy Glessner (Devin Townsend Band). Influences cited include Dream Theater, Tool, Anathema and Riverside, and certainly throughout the sixteen track album, the band endeavours to blend high technicality and thoughtful composition with atmospheric intensity.

There is much here to get your teeth into and much to enjoy, though to this reviewer's ears the Metal elements are generally less incisive than, say, DT, while the more melancholic and atmospheric Prog elements are sometimes less compelling than the psycho-dramas of Riverside or Anathema's reflections on life, love and mortality. That said, '...Learned' undoubtedly contains moments of genuine and quite breathtaking beauty, notably disc one's 'Womb (In Memoriam)' and (especially) 'Holding Atropos', and disc two's 'Hunter, Heart and Home' and 'Little Burden'.

The material on disc two ('Learned') – referred to on the album sleeve as "Side B" – is generally quieter and more reflective than the heavier material on disc one ("Side A" – 'Known'), but for my money it's the slower, more mournful tracks which are harder hitting and more powerful. Arcane's trump card is the voice of Jim Grey which, at its best, oozes pain and empathy and is every bit as engaging as Talk Talk's Mark Hollis at his most heartfelt or Marillion's Steve Hogarth at his most vulnerable.

With adequate distribution 'Known–Learned' is sure to find favour beyond the band's Australian fan base and give Arcane an international following. With the promise of a live show that offers "staggering visualisations" and "a vast sensory experience", let's hope it happens.

Michael Anthony

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