BIFFY CLYRO are known to approach their albums as trilogies so Ellipsis serves as the opening chapter in the next chronicle in the band’s career. Returning with their seventh studio album, the Scottish trio move in a new direction with a more biographical, musically exploratory sound.
Ellipsis opens with the urgent yet melodic ‘Wolves Of Winter’, an outright attack on the bands critics with Simon Neil proudly proclaiming “We’ve achieved so much more than you possibly thought we could”. ‘Wolves Of Winter’ contains flashes of Biffy’s previous album Only Revolutions on tracks such as ‘The Captain’ while drawing back to the more frantic energy of the band’s pre-Puzzle trio of albums but ultimately doesn’t recapture the spirit of their earliest work.
With Ellipsis progressing towards tracks such as ‘Friends And Enemies’ and ‘Animal Style’ you can feel that the songs were written around Biffy’s bigger more recent stadium sound with festival-headlining prowess throughout. The opening three tracks serve as a taste for Ellipsis as the story of the past 2 years of Simon Neil’s life. The album explores the frontman’s ongoing struggle with depression and how this has impacted his exploration of his band’s success and ever-evolving sound.
As Ellipsis plays through the biographical story unfolds as it describes Simon’s experiences while the album was conceived and written, this offers a series of mellower, more vulnerable tracks reminiscent of Puzzle tracks such as ‘Machines’ and ’Folding Stars’ or Only Revolutions ‘Many of Horror’. ‘Re-Arrange’ serves as a tribute to Simon’s wife as she helped him through this turbulent period of his life while ‘Medicine’ walks the listener through Simons own personal demons and coping mechanisms. ‘Herex’ picks the tempo of the album back up with bigger guitar riffs that listenera are more accustomed to from the band and give more of a familiar feel while continuing to express Simon’s ceaseless struggle as as he sings ‘ how do you think that the man gets made? It isn’t magically.’’ The highlights of Ellipsis are ‘’Flammable’’, ‘’On a Bang’’ and ‘’Howl’’ the latter featuring collaboration from Snow Patrol front man Gary Lightbody. bizarrely, all of the above tracks tracks are pushed to the second half of the album but they are well worth the wait as they offer huge bass lines with subtle melodic guitar and pitch perfect vocal harmonies.
Ellipsis is arguably the most vulnerable Simon Neil has let himself be since ‘Puzzle’ where Simon explored his feeling surrounding the passing of his mother and there is a notable change in the direction of the band. Parting ways with longtime producer Garth Richardson, his offers a first time pairing with producer Rich Costey who previously produced and mixed Muse’s stadium rock albums Absolution and Black Holes and Revelations. As assumed, this has led to a shift in the dynamic of the band’s sound.
Overall Ellipsis is a melodic and well crafted album, all be it at points overproduced. The imperfections and improvisations which made Biffy Clyro’s previous albums so energetic seem to be lacking and may potentially leave fans of their earliest work frustrated but this is not to say there isn’t something for fans old or new.