Arcane Saints – This is Primal (2022)

I was born in the early 80’s, and by the turn of the decade, I was already a huge music fan, although it’s safe to say that my real musical awakening began in earnest in the mid 90’s.  The so called grunge explosion happened, and some say it killed rock n roll, I strongly disagree.  

I used to listen to Triple J just about every single afternoon, and there was a massive explosion of rock bands that came out of this country around that time.  Yep, Triple J used to play rock.  There was the Silverchairs and Powderfingers who went on to the greatest success, but there was also You Am I, Spiderbait, Tumbleweed, Magic Dirt, Custard, Pollyanna, The Fauves, The Meanies, The Mark of Cain…. I could go on and on – all of whom reached various levels of success.  It was a wonderful time.  

I should add that most of those bands are still going…. 

Get to the point, I hear you say.  We’ll, my point is that had Arcane Saints appeared during that time, they could have been the leader of the pack.  They have the songwriting talent of Powderfinger and You Am I, the occasional sludginess of Tumbleweed, the catchiness of Pollyanna and Custard, the sheer weight of The Mark of Cain, the punk rock energy of Bodyjar and The Meanies, and the musical drama of later day Silverchair… 

In a nutshell, they have everything going for them.  

And that’s what brings us to the modern day.  I’m certainly not saying that Arcane Saints are a band out of their time – in all honesty, they would fit in any era.  What I am saying is that it’s time for Australian rock to get some focus once again, and this band SHOULD be a mainstay of Australian rock radio.  The latest offering, the full length “This is Primal” is all the proof you need.  

Opening with “Drowning”, we are given a dramatic build that leads in to a huge rocker.  Mikes vocals are on fire, and the bands sounds awesome together.  It’s all given a big boost by some exceptional production. 

“Fade in to You” could possibly be one of the bands best tracks to date.  There’s a bounce that runs for the entire duration that makes it incredibly catchy, and paired with chunky bass, heavy riffs, and some great drumming from Tim White, this is a song that could put Arcane Saints on the map where they belong. 

The jangly staccato guitar at the beginning of “Satellites” takes me back to the first song I ever heard from the band, “Nervous Breakdown”, and follows a similar formular.  Milder versus give way to massive choruses.  Mikes vocals are powerful as always, and are the real star of this track. 

“Melbourne City” is a bit of an interlude.  Very tame by comparison to the rest of the record, but far from out of place.  Gentle acoustic guitar, accompanied by some “less is more” drumming, and a very simplistic set of lyrics.  It’s a soothing moment, that lets us take a breather before what’s to come.. 

“Low” is immense, and full of energy from the very beginning.  Tim’s drumming is the star of this track, and I’m left feeling sorry for his kit, because in the chorus it’s really taking a beating.  Mike is really giving his vocals a good workout here too, occasionally it sounds like there’s an entirely different singer involved in the song, demonstrating his diversity. 

“Wildfire” is a bit more mid tempo, but features another incredibly catchy chorus, while “2am” has an Oasis gone country sort of feel.  It’s on the lighter side, but again, serves to demonstrate Mikes vocal diversity, as well as his songwriting abilities.  

I have spent the better part of a week chanting the chorus to “Tonight”.  Listen to it, and you’ll understand.  This is a relatable party rock song, and I’m totally here for it.  This is energetic, and very tongue in cheek.  Another highlight for me. 

Closing out the album is “Rivers”.  It’s the longest track of the record, and covers a lot of ground musically.  This could be an epic mid set track in the Arcane live set.  

This might ruffle some feathers, but Arcane Saints are the best band in Australia right now, and this record demonstrates it.  

Prove me wrong, if you can! 

10/10

Shayne McGowan. 

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