Albums, like all pieces of art, are products of their environment, and this one is no different, with its difficulty stemming not from its creation, but where and when it was created. So, for all its continued musical brilliance – the overwhelming riffs, the sublime melodies and the wilful bypassing of convention – there’s a context that’s impossible to ignore. How can you not read the record’s title, for example, or hear the lyrics to first single Home (‘Out of the dark/Into the great unknown/We flow’) as ruminations on Brexit Britain, the limbo between the fateful decision and uncertain future we’re currently heading towards? That spectre of change and its consequences certainly runs throughout the record. Aether, with its Tool-like breakdown and choral conclusion, speaks of comfort in shared experience in the face of a fundamental shift (‘I can see through the clouds there’s a change/I feel your pain’). Slow Seas, meanwhile, speaks of striving for togetherness in the face of adversity (‘Start building bridges of hope’).
You assume that’s the intention of the authors, because who better than a band touring the world, and a British one at that, to empathise with that feeling of dislocation and uncertainty? But even if that weren’t the intention, All That Divides is still an intelligent, unpredictable soundtrack to confusing, frustrating times, that’s full of rage, beauty and nuance.
Words: James Hickie