Gig Review: Arcane Roots @ The Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton

Arcane Roots must be the ugliest bastards in the world. What gives me right to say that? For over an hour on Thursday night, we were treated to just fleeting glimpses of the Kingston three piece as they played in the shadows. However, vision is not the sense required to enjoy them. Shut your eyes, open your ears and let their ethereal assault wash over you, wave after wave.

Hitting the road to promote their new album, Melancholia Hymns, this was their second attempt at reaching Wolverhampton, with the original date being postponed due to, in the words of frontman Andrew Groves “these things coming in threes, well this came in millions”. However, what they brought in behind schedule more than delivered.

Opening with Before Me & Matter from Melancholia Hymns, it was a darkened, ethereal introduction, bursting into life from the stage. The smooth, haunting keyboards are mixed in with heavy riffs, with the vocals sounding studio perfect. Good things indeed come to those who wait, and Arcane Roots were more than making up for the delay.

The lighting set up added to the atmosphere, with the band bathed in darkness, only to appear through bursts of light. For a band that deals in the haunting, heavy and ethereal, it was incredibly fitting to have them move in the gloom as they bounced through the old favourites and the new classics, including Off the Floor, Sacred Shapes, Leaving & Indigo, with every vocal assisted by the audience.

Clocking in at just over an hour long, the set left everyone wanting more, but what the set had in shortness delivered double in sweetness, with Arcane Roots playing an inch perfect set, not a hair out of place or a riff out of sync. It did however feel like all the songs joined up perfectly, with the band being able to segue between songs as if they were written as one piece of performance art, a concept that crosses albums. Despite the fact a three piece band were trying to incorporate big synth sounds along with their heavy riffs, nothing was out of place; there were no missed cues, unappealing sounds or confusing intervals. It might not be rock and roll to show up on time (which they did) and play a smooth, seamless set, but it’s certainly impressive.

Closing out with their big numbers, Curtains and If Nothing Breaks, Nothing Moves, it’s clear that nothing can stop this band, even if it does come in millions. Their slick production, ethereal sounds and all-encompassing riffs are the booster rockets to take their music to the moon and back.

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Oliver Butler

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