Few metal bands have so captivated our attention from their beginning to the present day as the UK prog-death powerhouse Rannoch. They started strong and became even stronger; witnessing the evolution of their ambitions and their skills has been thrilling, and in both respects they reached a high-water mark in the extraordinary achievements of their last album, 2020’s Reflections Upon Darkness.
For precisely those reasons, however, there’s been some frustration among us here that Rannoch still haven’t gotten all the acclaim and attention they deserve. They run rings around bands vastly better-known than they are, but thankfully those injustices don’t seem to have sapped Rannoch’s desire. Instead, they have only driven themselves harder, and their forthcoming third album Conflagrations is abundant proof of that. It is indeed a creative conflagration, and one we hope will propel their name to the scale of attention their talents warrant.
This new album is set for release on July 21st by Willowtip Records, and it’s our privilege now to premiere its second single “Threads“, presented through an attention-riveting video.
Anyone who is familiar with Rannoch’s previous works, and especially that last album Reflections Upon Darkness, is well aware that while the band have a “penchant for blending humongous grooves with explosions of blinding technicality” (to quote from our review of that album), their songwriting has expanded to create dramatically varying and contrasting experiences, generating a sense of intrigue, surprise, and deeper satisfaction as you wind your way through their tracks.
It’s thus not exactly a surprise for you to know that Conflagrations includes many twists and turns of its own, which we’ll explore in depth as we get closer to the album’s release. That said, both the album’s first single “Daguerreotype“ and the song we’re premiering today are high-octane bludgeoners and technically demanding mind-benders.
To consider “Daguerreotype“ first, prepare yourselves for a hair-raising, body-bruising, and head-twisting assault. It strikes at high speed with typhoon-like power (or, to mix the metaphors, like teleporting the listener into combat between strafing fighter jets and overheating anti-aircraft guns), but the wildly darting and swirling fretwork is as bamboozling in its rampant convolutions as the song is brutally punishing (to mix the metaphors again, there are times when the band throw you under a pile-driver, and then beneath an overheating jackhammer).
The drumming is often thoroughly jaw-dropping, the low end heaves like a leviathan and crushes like sledgehammers, and the vocals sound just as crazed as all the spidery fretwork. The moving parts are many, and their intricately mapped pathways are relentlessly twisting and turning. One of those twists will carry you into a magnificent guitar solo that somehow makes even the previous guitar freakouts seem slower by comparison. Perhaps needless to say, the moods of the music are just as fast-changing as the instrumental kaleidoscope.
And now we come to “Threads“, the song that’s the subject of today’s video premiere. This one is also blisteringly intense, and it’s an experience made even more intense by the opportunity to watch the performers do their thing against a stark white backdrop, including the white-hot ferocity of Ian Gillings‘ serrated-edge vocal delivery, which at times straddles a thin line between screaming and singing.
Wielding a pair of 8-string guitars, Gillings and Richard Page put on a furious show, sometimes syncing up with the rhythm section to deliver the high-speed, head-ramming cannonades that heavily anchor the song, but also giving heads a swift spin with doses of tonal bullet-spitting, flurries of vicious insectile swarming, and swirling frenzies that soar sky-high. There’s a guitar solo in this one, too, one that slowly wails but also spins up into a fret-burning spectacle.
As expected, the rhythm section put on a show themselves. In the video we get to see bassist Paul Lloyd keeping pace and delivering the thunder, and although the visuals don’t include Australian drummer extraordinaire Dan Presland (Ne Obliviscaris, Black Lava), his own performance is as eye-popping as everyone else’s.
The whole experience sounds futuristic, in ways that Meshuggah have also mastered — mechanized like some vast alien machine intelligence, highly accelerated and working to achieve malignant ends — but laced with threads of melody that, along with the vocals, channel human emotions of pain, despair, and fury.
Conflagrations was recorded and produced by Ian Gillings at the Rannoch studios in Warwickshire, England; the drums were engineered and recorded by Troy Mccosker at Bushido Studios in Melton, Australia; and the record was mixed and master by James Stephenson (Cradle of Filth, Onslaught, Ghosts of Atlantis) for Stymphalian Productions in York, England.
Willowtip will release the album on gatefold 2xLP vinyl editions in different variants, as well as on digipack CD and digital formats, with apparel. It’s all available for pre-order now: