Biffy Clyro have reached the distinguished milestone of their seventh album and with it is the beginning of a new cycle in the band’s life. Biffy Clyro by their own admission are a band who embrace the three album cycle, in which there is a simple stylistic or thematic similarity grouping the trilogy together. The band has suggested that Ellipsis is the beginning of a ‘re-birth’, a back to basics embrace of chaos.
Frontman Simon Neil has called it ‘fight rock, pint-in-the-face rock’. This claim is certainly true of some songs and the album has a feeling of different pieces being thrown together, albeit in a good way. However the glimmer of pop on many of the tracks and the undeniable production values present suggest otherwise. At times it is unclear what direction Biffy are really trying to take with this album.
The heavy ‘volatile’ nature of songs like opener ‘Wolves of Winter’ and ‘Flammable’ is broken up by gentler pop songs throughout the album. They are almost like counter points to the animalistic rage and instability threatening to boil over from the other tracks; a wrestling match, which ultimately swings in favour of the darker side. The issue is not that this doesn’t work when listening to the album. Instead, the supposed theme of chaos in the music is offset by many of the songs seeming to reflect something different, like redemption and recovery.
Rather than chaotic this album seems more cathartic. The genesis of a visceral, back to basics rebellion this is not. Pop songs ‘Re-Arrange’ and ‘Medicine’ sit in between the blistering pace of riff based rock songs ‘Animal Style’ and ‘Herex’. They are vastly different in tone and style and whilst individually have their own strengths, the ‘do-do-doo’s’ and love letter style of ‘Re-Arrange’ would seem completely out of place if it weren’t for Simon Neil’s distinctive vocals.
Lyrically other songs are generally coarser and more explicit than on past Biffy records, particularly on the track ‘On A Bang’. This certainly adds to the feeling that the album, in places, is teetering on the edge of chaos. But it is often at the expense of the tightly woven and diverse poetic imagery that has been present on previous albums.
The songs on the album are generally pitched on a more personal level and it seems almost conversational at times. Whilst this is a change that some may appreciate, for others it may feel like a step backwards from the epic and philosophical tone of albums such as Only Revolutions.
Ellipsis is still by the numbers Biffy Clyro; big riffs; relentless energy; clear influences from pop punk, hard rock and more; pure untamed Scottish blood. There are spattering’s of great new material for fans to sink their teeth into. And it is definitely new; the standard edition comes in at just under 40 minutes which is certainly a departure from the epic double album that was Opposites.
However despite the early promise of the singles ‘Wolves of Winter’ and ‘Animal Style’, this is not the radical departure in style that perhaps would be expected from a band supposedly changing things up. While shards of creativity poke through, it seems that the veteran band is almost finding their footing with this record. Fans and non-fans alike will have to wait a little longer for the complete package.
Words By: Tim Goodfellow
Photos by: Matt Marsh