Orchestra Punk: ‘Ants From Up There’ exhibits refreshing, cathartic sound

Ants From Up There, Black Country, New Roads newest album is a landmark release in the Indie community with its unique instrumental qualities.

Courtesy of Black Country, New Road

“Ants From Up There”, Black Country, New Road’s newest album is a landmark release in the Indie community with it’s unique instrumental qualities.

Will Baska, Staff Writer

When listening to “new” music, I usually do not expect a sound literally unfamiliar, but instead a culmination of building influences that contribute to the creation of a new work. Upon listening to Black Country, New Road’s sophomore album, “Ants From Up There”, the band’s advanced arrangements prove to present a totally unique sound that brings a deeper, truer meaning to the word new.

Black Country, New Road, an English band that has gained the affection of the ever-changing alternative music scene, released its first album, “For the First Time,” in 2021. The band is known for being, well, genreless. The use of thick instrumentation defines their sound, as they commonly utilize the confounding mix of various brass instruments and eccentric strings. 

On Feb. 4, the band released its second album, “Ants From Up There”. It was critically acclaimed by media and fans alike, being named a “Critics Pick” by the New York Times as well as receiving five stars from British newspaper The Independent. When choosing a new album to review, I went to an old reliable – Rate Your Music. The website is a platform for music lovers to review releases, resulting in a pantheon of albums to appear on the front page. ”Ants From Up There” is, so far, the best reviewed album of 2022 on Rate Your Music. As a lover of all types of music, I thought it was time I see what the hype is all about.

The album’s introduction is appropriately called “Intro,” an avant-garde 50-second instrumental track that presents a jumbled orchestra of brass, with a simple pop rock guitar part in the background. After this captivating and confusing start to the album, the second track “Chaos Space Marine” brings a proper, more traditional beginning to the LP. The track takes up where “Intro” left off, with the use of what seems like a million instruments in the first 20 seconds. The song truly takes off with an exciting rise in tension from a piano followed by a chorus of cathartic yell-singing brilliantly executed by lead singer, Isaac Wood. 

“Concorde” begins in a downbeat, nostalgic fashion in which Wood’s lyrics tell a tale of his artistic ambition. The song finishes with a more conventional instrumental rock epic, providing a proper climax for the track. The next tune, “Bread Song,” is yet another song beginning with a downbeat, quieter tone. Near the middle of the song, a spectacular rise in tension is incorporated in an Orchestrated fashion with a sound that reminds one of a Bachian fugue. 

The fifth track, “Good Will Hunting,” begins with an ear-catching use of a sound reminiscent of an air raid siren. The song has constant incredible use of string instruments throughout the song, presenting a slightly hypnotizing effect on the listener. The next song, “Haldern” begins with a wonderful use of French horn followed by a downbeat anthem that tells the tale of a heartbreak with the fluid use of piano and fiddles.

The seventh track, “Mark’s Theme” is a wonderful two-minute saxophone solo that despite having a structure isolated from any other instruments, is equally as rewarding as any other track with its alluring jazz charm. The following track, “The Place Where He Inserted the Blade,” begins with a mildly melancholic piano that calls to mind a lullaby. The song continues with a loud, warm chorus that plays heavily on the cathartic theme of the album.

The ninth song, “Snow Globes,” begins with yet another slow rise in tension with the calculated use of multiple drums, brass and strings. Wood’s voice wails in release, bringing increased emotion radiating from the track as an incredible, enchanting drum solo takes over the song. The final track, “Basketball Shoes,” begins with a slow, sentimental sound achieved by the use of heavy drums, guitar and fiddle. The lyrics return to multiple previous tracks in the album, with references to “Concorde” and “Snow Globes.” The 10-minute finale continued to evolve throughout its duration, with a sudden rise in tension brought by the encapsulating use of fiddles followed by a thick, satisfying guitar riff. The song ends in an intense climax for the album with the use of heavy electric guitar, bagpipes, and vocals that scream catharsis. 

Ants From Up Thereis really wonderful, in every sense of the word. The album has brought a completely unique perspective to alternative music. Isaac Wood’s captivating vocals mixed with the orchestrated use of drums and cymbals brought an ubiquitous theme throughout the album of tension and catharsis. This record has earned up to the hype simply because it is incredibly unique and inarguably well produced. Four and a half stars.