06/08/2016 – Biffy Clyro-Herex (2016)

Biffy’s new album will polarise fans, but there is still plenty to sunk your teeth into



Eight albums fourteen years isn’t to be sniffed at. Nor is 20 years in a band and still finding new things to be inspired about, but this is exactly where Biffy Clyro find themselves. Their latest album ‘Ellipsis’, basically meaning using more words than necessary, finds them writing some of heaviest and most visceral music to day, album with pop-bangers. In a recent interview they said “You’ll either love it or hate it, that’s what we want!” Overall I like it, but its not a perfect album by any means…



‘Wolves of Winter’ kicks the album off in fine form. It’s obvious that since the last album Biffy Clyro have been immersing themselves in Pink Floyd and Prog rock, as a sample of laughter, guitar loops and echoy vocals usher us into the opening salvo. But there are elements of contemporary dance music in there too. Who knew Biffy were into EDM and dubstep? Suddenly a gargantuan guitar riff explodes in our face, everything kicks off and goes blurry. The opening line is “How’s it gonna feel when there’s no one to support ya? How’s it gonna feel when you’re standing there alone?”. Not the best opening lyrics, but let’s hope it picks up. Then comes the most interesting lyric on the whole album “We have achieved so more than you possibly thought we could” Are they laying into their original fans, or just lashing out to anyone whoever wrote them off? Either way it raises more questions than answers. ‘Friends and Enemies’ has a pure pop sound to it, but the drums hint at the power and aggression just lurking under the surface. Sadly it never quite breaks, but the inclusion of the child’s choir is a master stroke. Again the lyrics let the song down “Her eyes were described as deep set cigarette burns” and ““With a friend as good as you who needs enemies. I guess we all make mistakes, but we’re growing” is ok on your first album, but this is number seven from Biffy.



‘Re-Arrange’ slows things down a bit and is one of the one of the tenderest songs on Ellipsis. It shows that Biffy still have a soft side, even if the previous three songs have been stompers. ‘Herex’ picks up the intensity, but again the lyrical content lets it down. “With silence as my witness, Your cacophony is the truth” sums this up perfectly. ‘Medicine’ is an acoustic ballad. One thing you forget about Biffy is that Simon Neil’s vocals have only got better with age and this heartfelt break up song suits his tones perfectly. Plus the fact it’s a gentle, sedate number means that when ‘Flammable’ kicks in with massive riffs and drums it has more power. ‘On a Bang’ is one of the heaviest songs on the album. Again Biffy are showing off their rock roots, searing riffs are layered upon searing riffs, while Neil screams himself horse. Sadly though the lyrics are trite and wipe away all the good work of the music. “You only fuck computers”, “Don’t blame Mother Nature, She rides on lightning” and “Well there’s your shitty future, You mother fucker”. Indeed…



One of the stand out moments is ‘Small Wishes’, which sounds like a jug band on speed. Jaunty guitars, penny whistles, hilarious basslines and psych drumming show that Biffy have a lighter side and its inclusion really helps to break up the face melting guitars and pummelling angst that comes before it. ‘People’ closes the album and has Bond Theme qualities. Haunting piano and melancholic guitar is backed by luscious strings and synths that skew and shift before our every eyes, well ears, and get more epic as the song progresses, until you don’t think you can take anymore but you do as you can’t bear to turn it off.



‘Ellipsis’ sounds amazing. There is not denying it. On ‘Ellipsis’ Biffy sounds tighter, heavier and more vibrant than they have in recent outings. Live these songs are going to go off. Bigtime and give their already burgeoning back catalogue some competition. The only real downside it that they’ve run out of things to say. It feels like after crafting some generally hair raising moments, and adding some inventive production flourishes, children’s choirs and faux-dubstep bass drops, they forgot to spend as much time on the lyrics. At times its angst by numbers with lines like “With a friend as good as you who needs enemies. I guess we all make mistakes”, “My bodies gone cold, I’ve lost control”, “Sex is silence” and “My heads a fucking carnival”. There is nothing as eloquent or heart felt as ‘Many of Horror’. And this is what makes the whole thing fall down. C’mon boys! You’ve done the hard bit by writing proper exciting music, but you’ve left us with nothing to sing along with! But given the title, maybe that was the point…
















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