Arcaeon – Cascadence


Reading-based quintet, Arcaeon, are already established on the prog metal circuit with an appearance at the mighty Tech-Fest under their belt and an acclaimed EP to their name. Now ready to turn heads with their debut album, these lads take metalcore to new levels of technicality and promise to keep you enthralled throughout the forty-nine minutes of Cascadence. Whether you can keep up with the mellifluous melodies and virtuoso musicianship is another question. There’s no doubt these guys know their way around a recording studio and a song sheet.

Arcaeon are not subtle about their influences. Periphery and Architects are the two biggest components of their sound, yet they do a stellar job of taking these inspirations and moulding them into their own universe, like the Devin Townsend Project’s unique creation on Transcendence. ‘Origin of the Dreams’ is an impressive combination of cascading synthesisers and 7-string guitar grooves that throb like the creature inside John Hurt’s stomach in the legendary Alien film from 1979. Think of those early records from The Contortionist with the numerous finger-twisting guitar passages and colourful melodies underneath the madness. But don’t be fooled by the solstice of the swirling synths – these guys are capable of extreme brutality and callous rage on the likes of ‘Ghost in the Machine’ and ‘Replicant’. The former is a colossal blend of Monuments and Periphery with a poignant rally against the digital forces that threaten to enslave us and divide us into warring factions. The latter is like Suicide Silence covering While She Sleeps with the chunky Meshuggah sound powering things from the source. On standout track, ‘Beyond the Spires / Beneath the Canopy’ we get rumbling slap bass and an epic vocal roar to bring in the drop-tuned riffs, not to mention a smattering of blast beats and shredding scale runs. You can see why people label them a ‘tech metalcore’ band.

Perhaps the most impressive element of this album is its multi-dimensional aspect. Each song represents a colour on the spectrum from red through to blue, with the compositions on the latter half embracing a more utopian sound to match the optimism of the evolving colour change. It’s easy to get on board with this concept; Cascadence is an album about self-discovery and reaching a higher plain of collective harmony. The arpeggiator button of the synthesiser is just as important as the low-end chug of the guitar strings here, yet it never strays away from its core identity as a sophisticated metal onslaught. Born of Osiris and Veil of Maya are useful reference points on ‘Heretic’, and we can only hope Jinjer explore a similar groove-heavy direction to the awesome power of ‘Ode to Unknown’ on their upcoming album. The musicianship is remarkable.

But the one nagging reservation you’ll have for this LP is the subservience to the Periphery sound, right down to the vocals. These often imitate Spencer Sotelo in the way they switch from clean to harsh, not least on the high-pitched tenor vocals that land somewhere between emo and tuneful post-hardcore. This will alienate many in the extreme metal camp who will gravitate to this band for their heavy guitar approach but then retreat when they hear the euphoric moments. It doesn’t help that the band converge on Periphery II: This Time It’s Personal as their main source of inspiration to the point where you could be listening to the colossal album from Misha Mansoor and co. This is a shame because vocalist, Stuart Sarre, is an immense talent and brings a welcome variation to the band.

You know Arcaeon will perfect their formula on album number two, by which time they should be signed to a label like Sumerian or SharpTone. The future is as bright as the colour palette of this record and will be even brighter once they shed the last remnants of their heroes from their sound. Be open-minded and give this the attention and recognition it deserves.

JVB


Verdict


Release Date: 12/02/2021

Record Label: Self Released

Standout tracks: Replicant, Ode to Unknown, Beyond the Spires / Beneath the Canopy

Suggested Further Listening: Periphery – Periphery II: This Time It’s Personal (2012), Born of Osiris – The Simulation (2019), Monuments – Gnosis (2012)