It is no secret that a lot of Biffy Clyro's longer-serving fans are disillusioned with the direction the band are taking. A move towards the mainsteam has seen them start to produce more polished, rounded recordings, compared to the heavy, angst-filled grunge that they wrote and performed so explosively on their debut album, 'Blackened Sky'.
Their musical journey has seen them grace aspects of prog, metal, and the brand of pre-emo which Pearl Jam and Weezer accomplished before them. Throughout their career as musicians, Biffy's creativity has to be their most delightful attribute. The time changes and instrumental fills, as well as the majestic and sometimes outrageous lyrics that grace 'Blackened Sky', 'The Vertigo of Bliss' and 'Infinity Land' make for genuinely interesting and thrilling music.
With 'Puzzle' came a sound more suited to, for want of a better word, 'pop'. Biffy had finally hit the mainstream, and to some extent, following the progression of their earlier albums, this was a natural move. 'Puzzle' blended the band's thirst for new ideas and concepts with frontman Simon Neil's grief and apathy following his mother's death, with a smoother sound which the band hadn't looked to release before.
With 'Only Revolutions' comes the band's triumphant proclamation that they have made it big on the rock scene. This album is packed full of massive songs, with huge choruses and heart-felt lyrics. It bleeds power and emotion from start to finish. Almost every song is anthemic in terms of content and quality. As a fan of Biffy's older material as well as their new, this album is just as good as any of the others- it is just different to how they began. And what is wrong with that? After all, there would be no point recording the same music over and over again.
'Only Revolutions' is the finished concoction of Biffy's trademark big choruses and heavy guitar riffs, with orchestral sections for an added dimension on a number of tracks- as used to great effect on 'Living is a problem' and '9/15ths' on 'Puzzle'- and a mainstream accessibility which is hard to pin down. It isn't the absence of irregular time signatures- 'Cloud of Stink' and 'Whorses' provide these in seemless fashion. It isn't the absence of powerful, dirty guitars- an immense instrumental section on 'Bubbles', which features Josh Homme, is testament enough to this, or indeed the thought-provoking lyrics, which are everywhere- 'Many Of Horror', one of the most poignant tracks on the album, being a prime example. Perhaps it is just an awareness that now the band are writing for the fans, rather than the relatioship being the other way round, with the fans being written as a result of the music.
Make no mistake, this is a superb album. A combination of brilliantly written songs, complete with heavy instrumental sections and pieces of melodic and lyrical genius (such as the beautiful 'God And Satan' deomonstrates), this album will appeal to any fan of rock music. The band's famed quirkiness and innovation (the irresistibly eccentric 'Born On A Horse') are there, as are the ingredients of any other memorable rock album.
Practically every song on the album could be a potential single release, such is the strength of each as an individual piece. However, this is perhaps a case of the album's strength being its weakness. It doesn't flow in the same what that 'Puzzle' or 'The Vertigo Of Bliss' does. 'Only Revolutions' is, perhaps, a collection of songs, rather than an album.
That said, it is a collection of exceptionally good songs. Loud, quiet, heavy, soft, love, anger- it is all there. Whether it is the pulsating instrumental breakdown in 'That Golden Rule', or the arms-in-the-air anthem that is 'Mountains', 'Only Revolutions' does fulfil almost every hope and expectation for such an album- except, maybe, the desires of the band's original fans. This is indeed a revolution: and it sure is a good one.