Updated: Aug 19, 2020
Biffy Clyro are an interesting band. Their albums are always a mix of mainstream single material, such as 'The Captain', and outlandish, half-prog odysseys (think 'Living Is a Problem Because Everything Dies'). This mixture ensures that they can both get their name out and build a large fanbase via radio airplay, and flex their muscles on the main album tracks, building a strong core audience. They're very good at it.
This is why I was surprised by the first half of this record, which in truth, is surprisingly bland. 'North of No South' is a pretty decent opener, but then there's four tracks of absolutely nothing. 'The Champ' through to 'Worst Type of Best Possible' is 15 minutes of music which sounds algorithmic, made by a computer which was given a bunch of Biffy Clyro material and told to make some similar songs out of it. There's little creativity, nothing new; it's all run-of-the-mill and phoned in. Nearly halfway through the album then, and I was thoroughly underwhelmed. This article is two paragraphs long so far and already we've looked at almost half of the album, which just goes to show how little there is to say about the opening 20 minutes or so.
Thank God for the second half of the album then. 'Space' marks a turning point, as Clyro begin to show their true colours once again. 'Space' is very good indeed, but what follows, finally, is the pizzazz that the album had been lacking. In 'End Of', Clyro bring the noise and finally arrive for real. A fast, exciting tune full of sparkle and passion, this is what we came for and what had, so far, been utterly absent. Singer Simon Neil threatens to enter full screamo at multiple points, and the song's structure is typically complex, with some pseudo-metal towards the end. Panic over everyone: the album isn't a total bore-fest.
It's not just 'End Of' either. 'Instant History' and 'The Pink Limit', whilst not quite on the same level, are far better than what we hear 15 minutes beforehand, and 'Opaque', taking notes from the band's own 'God & Satan', slows the album down in a very majestic manner. It's a beautiful, and gives you a chance to contemplate the relief you're feeling that the record drastically picked up in quality.
And then, to round off the record, is the absolutely magnificent 'Cop Syrup'. The rocky bits sound like they've been nicked straight from a playlist made up of Refused and Pigsx7, but there's also a leaf out of the book of Eric Clapton, as the heavy opening gives way to a gorgeous orchestral bit, not unlike the structure of Layla. 'Cop Syrup' is six of the best minutes in Biffy Clyro's catalogue, something which, hald an hour beforehand, I didn't think I'd be saying about anything on this record.
As it turns out, the album's title turned out to be quite accurate. Whereas the opening section was dull and boring, the second half - or the 'end' - was indeed a celebration of everything Biffy Clyro is.
If you're a fan of the band, you'll love this record. It's 100% Biffy Clyro, and features everything that makes them great. It's a shame that it takes them 20 minutes to actually get there, but hey, you've got to put the filler somewhere, and they just made the unusual decision to put it at the front. Never mind, the songs all stay the same, and if you own the vinyl addition of the album, you'll likely only need Side B. You'll miss out on 'Space', but nothing more, and frankly it'll save you time.
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