Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Arcite are a 5 piece metal outfit from the North East of England. Having spent tireless hours self-promoting and cultivating a massive underground fan base throughout the UK’s metal scene, their long awaited debut album has finally arrived. After years of live shows and line-up changes, what they have produced is, at least for me, the next step in metal evolution.

Post nu-metal, the genre as a whole went through a bit of an awkward phase. Things started well with the development and rising popularity of metalcore, but things went a bit strange from about 2004 onwards. New sounds were emerging, but it all just seemed like a giant p*ssing contest, convolution ran wild with each new band trying to out-guttural-snarl the previous. Progressive? Yes. Auricularly pleasing? No. Things were getting noisier and more aggressive, but as a medium and an art form it was pedantic, seemingly all about the faux-rock posturing, and the new idols purely dilettante. I would like to think The Escape Key represents the rebirth of the genre, the snake shedding its skin.

The Escape Key has everything. For the past 48 hours, I have being living vicariously through the album as an external conduit to my existential rage and angst, and I feel cured, possibly even saved. It is such a melting pot of various elements and influences that to try and define Arcite’s sound would be an insult to the band and their diversity. From the opening track ‘II’, with its Metallica-esque thrashiness, to ‘Salvation-Redemption-Deliverance’, which brings back memories of Linkin Park’s ‘Session’, Arcite have succeeded in bringing a polished but raw sound reeking of integrity by amalgamating the definitive tenants of various subgenres of metal and creating a familiar, but progressive sound. That is why this album works so well, it is not as though you are hearing anything particularly new; it is just that you haven’t heard it done so well in so long.

Although every track on this album has the potential to be a single which could carry the album all on its own, there is no filler; there are a few tracks that stand out as particularly impressive. The Escape Key is an uplifting number concerned with taking chances, living life with no boundaries and is definitely a contender to become an anthem for a generation. For all intents and purposes, it draws immediate comparison to ‘Rooftops’ by Lost Prophets, but with added testicular fortitude.

The centerpiece for the album has got to be ‘Murder of Crows’, a track which embodies the tone of the album, beautifully brutal. ‘Amongst Ashes’ is bittersweet, no better track could have been chosen for the climatic final song on the album, fist-pumpingly atmospheric and vengeful, but it leaves you unsatisfied. Not with any of the content on the album or the track itself, but simply because it is the final piece on the album and there is no more to follow. Ultimately the album will leave you with an insatiable taste for more, well, at least until the decisive second album, which after playing The Escape Key constantly since I acquired it, I already can’t wait for.

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