Arcade Messiah is the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter and producer John Bassett. III is the third album under this moniker, but you may have also heard of Bassett by way of his self-titled project, or as KingBathmat. Writing and producing out of the UK and Ireland since 2003, Bassett accomplishes the impressive feat of exploring the realms of post rock and post-progressive metal on his own.
Like a lot of post rock, III requires a bit of patience to really appreciate it. The songs are all quite long (“Black Tree” is the shortest at just under five-and-a-half minutes) which isn’t a bad thing per se, but it is definitely more well-suited for those into the technical side. If you’re interested in the effects and pedals that make Bassett’s solo multi-layered and heavy sound possible, check out the detailed descriptions on the recording of III on Arcade Messiah’s Youtube channel.
Listening to III is however, a rewarding exercise in patience. At times heavy, dark and gloomy, at others soft, slow and intimate, Bassett’s ability to meld the best elements in metal and rock come together quite beautifully. Almost entirely instrumental, well-placed vocals do make some brief appearances in the chorus of tracks like “Revolver,” which features Bassett’s relatively undistorted singing, and “Black Tree” where the chorus sounds more like a heavily auto-tuned robot.
The beauty of III is, in my mind, in the intricate and complex texture of the songs; hence the patience needed. You could probably listen to the album fifty times over and still pick up something new in each song, every time. In tracks like “Deliverance,” Bassett combines the violin with lighter riffs, slowly incorporating a unique drum beat (on top of everything else, Bassett is a more than capable drummer), and heavy metal riffs as the track slowly works its way to the crescendo. “Life Clock” and “Sanctuary” both contain more predominate bass lines that act as a skeleton supporting the numerous layers wound over top. Keep an ear out for the subtleties and you sure as shit wont be disappointed.
Written by Jordan Hodgins
*edited by Kate Erickson