JOY, DISCOVERY, INVENTION. Not only do these three words comprise the title of Blackened Sky’s opening track but they are ideas that reside at the heart of Biffy Clyro’s ethos to this very day.
Never a group that have shied away from their roots, the notion of continually reinventing their own wheel has been well documented but the elements that have made the band a global phenomenon have been present since their introduction to the world at large.
Released on the 10th March 2002, ‘The Biff’ would use the potent rock ‘n’ roll and time signature-dabbling madness of Blackened Sky as a launching pad from which they’ve infiltrated the hearts and minds of people of all ages.
Recorded over the course of a year or so at studios in London and Bath, the album’s release on Beggars Banquet Records signified the transition from a local band that had fervently performed up and down the country into a legitimate force to be reckoned with in Britain’s creatively minded alt-rock scene.
What’s more, the album itself has continued to be more than a symbol of the band’s ascendancy but has most definitely stood the test of time.
Comprised of 12 rampantly experimental and at times uninhibited tracks, the album’s cohesiveness and consistency are clear cut signs of the growth which took place between its recording and their tentative first steps on Thekidswhopoptodaywillrocktomorrow.
However, in true Biffy form, the true gems of their debut EP; ’57’ and ‘Justboy’ were given pride of place alongside their newer material and it’s safe to say that it was an inspired choice. One could only speculate on how many glorious and sweat drenched singalongs could have been lost to time if they had hastily neglected to place two tracks that would ultimately become fully fledged, stadium conquering anthems among the album’s tracklist in favour of starting anew.
Among the centerpieces of the album, both ’57’ and ‘Justboy’ encompass what makes the band’s dynamic so unmistakable and special. Aligning dissonance and sentiment with one another in a precarious yet inspiring harmony, this mixture of beauty and raw aggression has been a guiding light for the trio from their earliest forays right up until the present day on Elipsis’ less contained moments.
A fact that is undoubtedly dismaying for many hardcore fans, the band’s status as one of the UK’s most in-demand rock ‘n’ roll acts means that the debut record’s singles are destined to commandeer the lion’s share of the attention. In a generation where the average youth has a penchant towards an attention deficit, it becomes highly unlikely that tracks such as the gripping ‘Solution Devices’, ‘The Go-Slow’ or the foreboding sounds of ‘Christopher’s River’ will ever get the acclaim that they truly deserve in the context of the band’s growth as songwriters and artists.
One track in particular which continues to be treated with reverence as the band continue to grow in figurative stature is the awe-inspiring ’27’. Attesting to their ability to craft a bittersweet and candid love song for the modern age from the very outset of their career, its tale of regret, woe and longing amid a soundtrack of piercing guitars and thoughtful percussion remains as relevant to the band’s sound as it was upon release.
It is for this exact reason that the 15th anniversary of Blackened Sky must be acknowledged. Not in a poe-faced and bitter manner that chastises one of Scotland’s finest bands for becoming the property of the world’s collective culture but in celebration of the fact that it categorically proves that they’ve done so on their own terms.
Yes, they may be more inclined to soften some of the edges or dial down a guitar here or there but the creative energy that spawned Blackened Sky and their most recent output is one and the same. Proof positive that the band have garnered success without ‘selling out’, we can only hope that this special album will be discovered by all of those that may hear the band’s more radio friendly material and lead them to delve deeper into the band’s delightfully twisted world of love, loss and passion.