John Bassett is back with his third album under the moniker Arcade Messiah. It’s another dose of prog metal meets post metal. The man is a riff machine! “III” is a slightly different beast than the first 2 albums. For one, there are vocals, albeit just here and there. It was surprising to hear a distorted vocal in the opening track “Revolver.” But it adds a change of pace to a song that would otherwise have fit the same format as the songs on the other albums.
John has a great voice as evident in his other band, Kingbathmat, so it’s good to hear it again even if it’s brief. “Revolver” sets the tone for “III.” It might be his best opening Arcade Messiah track. “Citadel” keeps the ball rolling with great riffs plus an atmospheric middle section and a melodic guitar outro. I should mention the drumming is fucking killer too.
Another thing that “III” has and the other 2 Arcade Messiah albums did not have is an epic. This is not counting the Aphrodite’s Child cover on the last album which was really a bonus track. “Deliverance” delivers (sorry) in a big way. Strings in the opening, atmospheric melodies, a POUNDING section midway thru the track, it has everything. Honestly this track is the best example of what John Bassett can do.
Another favorite is the stomping “Black Tree,” which has a pummeling riff. It also has some “vocals” in the form of a vocoder! And that’s what I mean when I say “III” is about exploring some new ground. Yes it is very much Arcade Messiah but it’s also John Bassett adding some additional weapons to an already formidable arsenal.
While I do miss Kingbathmat, I love Arcade Messiah too much to say that John needs to go back to what he was doing. It’s very clear now with “III” that John is doing what he loves doing. Plus when you write so many great riffs with seeming ease, it makes sense to continue down the path you are on. Arcade Messiah has another great outing with their third act, “III.”
4. Life Clock
5. Black Tree