With a bang and ‘On A Bang’ was how Biffy Clyro decided to ring in 2016, debuting the first new track to emerge from their seventh album sessions at Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations.
Having decided to call 2015 “a year off”, the Ayrshire trio wasted around four minutes of the new year before throwing down the gauntlet with the fruits of their holiday labours. Was it worth the wait? Fuck yeah, it was.
Now of course there’s always the very, very slim possibility that from stage to studio ‘On A Bang’ could transform from riff-wrangling monster to twinkling ballad, but judging by its inaugural performance the track finds Biffy back on hard rocking, direct and immediate form. Following on from 2013’s double album opus ‘Opposites’, Simon, James and Ben have stated that they want this record to be ”really concise”. Seemingly, that description extends not just to the tracklisting but the songs themselves, too.
Opening on a prowling, sleazy bass throb and Simon Neil’s inimitable Scottish howl, the track soon explodes into a behemoth of a chorus with an en masse chant (“Now you know better/ Why can’t you fucking do better?”) and full-on heavy rock, growling power chords. There’s a tricksy mid-section that’s almost Muse-esque in its melodrama (interesting as ‘Black Holes and Revelations’ producer Rich Costey has been posting studio photos with the band) and some big ol’ slabs of pure noise that’ll have the Download crowds body-slamming themselves into a frenzy. And then it’s all over in two minutes 40 seconds. Job done.
Having already ticked off a legion of major career milestones (Reading & Leeds headline set, Number One album, er… X Factor cover song?), Biffy are at the enviable stage in their career of being able to do whatever the fuck they want, and here it sounds like they’re embracing their elder statesmen status with playful glee.
As far as new album mission statements go, ‘On A Bang’ proclaims that Biffy Clyro are going into this one hard and fast. It’s a lean, meaty introduction with no fluff or filler, and having grabbed 2016 in their sweaty palms from the get-go, you imagine they won’t let up until those midnight bells chime this time next year.