When last we left John Bassett and Arcade Messiah, he had released the self titled debut of this “side project” which highlighted the heavier side of this great musician. Now, we have the sequel. Unlike most sequels, this one is as great as (possibly better?) than the first album.
As with the debut album, this album is not a shitstorm of arpeggios and mindless displays of technical diarrhea. Kids, pay attention because Professor John Bassett is about to teach Advanced Riffology 101. Odds are after “Arcade Messiah II,” there may not be any new riffs available to anyone else for quite a while.
The album’s first track “Moon Signal” is an opening salvo to an album that, like the debut doesn’t let you up for air for too long. Sure, “Moon Signal” starts out seemingly innocent enough but it’s not long before the thick, heavy riffs take over. What makes Arcade Messiah so awesome is the layering of multiple themes and riffs. Everything is dense yet SO melodic.
I think that might be why this album is a hair better than the debut. It feels even heavier but also even more melodic at the same time. It also has more atmosphere as well. “Red Widow” is part of the opening one/two punch. I love how the riffs and rhythm are slightly off on this one. For those who wonder how prog Arcade Messiah is, listen to this track.
“Black Dice Maze” is the first chance to come up for air with a spacey, peaceful opening. But it is indeed a maze so stick close to your tour guide, because eventually things get thorny as hell. This track is a favorite of mine because it does have dynamics and some insane riffing at the six minute mark. “Gallows Way” is a legitimate slow, tranquil track and like “Aftermath” from the first album, it’s a nice safe place where you won’t get injured.
But don’t get comfy. “Fourth Quarter” has a throbbing bass line which throws you back into the fray. It’s amazing just how many riffs each of the tracks have in them. This song has that heavy riff which leads to a quieter riff (pre-chorus like) before you are hit with another heavy riff. The short and somewhat sweet “Via Occulta” is next but for a short, mellow song, it really is an uneasy sounding track. Eerie.
“Read the Sky” is the first “single” from the album. The opening riff is big and epic. It has the feeling of standing on the top of the world looking down on everything. It’s fucking huge sounding. “Read the Sky” has the same vibe as the band Tempel. Post metal meets prog metal. The first album had a stoner metal vibe more present, I hear it possibly a bit less this time out. The songs have more twists and turns which works for me!
“Start Missing Everybody” has a great atmospheric opening before it punches you dead in the face. It has the most extreme moments on the album all within its 3 minutes! The final track is the Aphrodite’s Child cover that John contributed to the “Side Effects” compilation album for Fruits de Mer Records. Check out my review of that compilation here. “The Four Horsemen” is the track and John turns it into an 18 plus minute barnstorming which has vocals, the only vocals on the album. It’s nice to hear John sing as it’s been a while! This jam makes for an insane closing to a super follow up.
It might seem to get old to say that John Bassett has done it again but he has! Arcade Messiah are clearly a passion and outlet for his love of heavy music. If you love instrumental music with a mix of prog and post metal, you need to own both Arcade Messiah albums!
1. Moon Signal
2. Red Widow
3. Black Dice Maze
4. Gallows Way
5. Fourth Quarter
6. Via Occulta
7. Read The Sky
8. Start Missing Everybody
9. The Four Horsemen