Biff Biff Boom!

Biffy Clyro feature for http://www.virginmedia.com/music

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UK metal and hard rock bands rarely enjoy both credibility and commerciality; the latter often eclipsing the former as bands pander to radio friendly considerations and fans eventually lose interest. However, Scottish trio Biffy Clyro are a rare breed, being one of the privileged few to have arguably achieved this feat. How did they manage it?

The heavy rock conundrum
 Back in the 80s, British heavy metal was a ubiquitous, all-encompassing force which not only drew in hardened, stadium-sized crowds but also enjoyed a healthy spell of commercial success. Thrash was of course still flailing away underground, but as Iron Maiden’s self-titled debut and Motorhead’s Ace of Spades both peaked at number four in 1980, the British public at large had suddenly awoken to the ear-splitting sound of full-throttle rock, whether they liked it or not…

But as tastes changed the charts looked like a barren place if you were a fan of hard-rock riffage, which is why Biffy Clyro are such an anomaly: a heavy rock band with mainstream success. Their chart record is impressive enough, 2007’s Puzzle and 2009’s Only Revolutions were both top three hits – while the band continued to refuse to compromise their sound and retained their fanbase. You could say they’ve brought heavy rock back to the mainstream, growing organically and incrementally to claim their now well deserved title of one of the UK’s most celebrated rock success stories.

Slow and steady wins the race

But it wasn’t always that way. Beginning life as Screwfish before swapping over to Biffy Clyro as students in Glasgow, the group’s first record was released on Stow College’s Electric Honey label – famously associated with indie-pop luminaries Belle and Sebastian – and quite at odds with the gut-busting, stadium-sized sound of Biffy Clyro in 2013.Their debut proper, Blackened Sky, came out in 2002 on Beggar’s Banquet. It was raw and untamed, channelling the contemporaneous and angst ridden spirit of emo, whilst still keeping a healthy distance from this oft rubbished genre. The band went on to put out two more full-length LPs on Beggar’s – The Vertigo of Bliss and Infinity Land – before eventually signing to a major record label in 2006; eleven whole years after their initial formation. Good things come to those who wait.

The trio’s last two albums – the aforementioned Puzzle and Only Revolutions – were the catalyst for their mainstream success, sculpted from more digestible song structures and melodies but without dumbing down their finely-tuned musical know-how, instrumentation and axe-weilding. It transformed their status from heroes of the leftfield to stadium-worthy rock gods, the kind who headline major festivals, tour the States with the Foo Fighters and work with bona fide legends like Josh Homme. But in the same breath, they still kept their credibility, with Only Revolutions not only going platinum and spawning three top 10 singles: Mountains, That Golden Rule and Many Of Horror. With its prestigious Mercury nomination; it was both a critical and a commercial success and they had carved their niche.

Read the full article here 

 

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