Area 11 – Heaven-Piercing Giga Drill Single Review

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So, here we are three years after Area 11 first began making music and All The Lights In The Sky is on it’s way out ready to make way for whatever the band have planned next. It seems somewhat fitting that the final single released from the album brings everything full circle with a special version of one of their very first songs, Heaven-Piercing Giga Drill (complete with sparkly new music video). So, what can fans who’ve already heard this song in a couple of different forms expect from the new single?

For the most part this is the same version of the song that appeared on ATLITS, at almost the exact same length with most of the tonal shifts happening at the exact same point. This mix of the song certainly seems louder and clearer than that of the full album version, with everything being that little bit punchier and more aggressive. It feels like more of a polishing of the album track than the full revision that we saw between the first two versions.

The highlight and biggest change to the audio is definitely the addition of over 500 Area 11 fans shouting along to one of the songs bigger and more dramatic moments. This moment feels epic in its scope and you can definitely tell the difference made by having such a huge crowd singing along together. It feels like less of a small resistance and more of a rebellious army standing up to their oppressors. It’s also a really nice addition in that it encapsulates a huge amount of what makes the band’s connection to their fans so strong. They’re leaving this song behind to try new things, so they got their fans to help send off the song, which is a really awesome gesture that will make this particularly special to a number of listeners who sent in their voices for the track.

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The song also has a new video, which is a very flashy and band-centric affair. It’s super energetic, focused on each of the band members in equal measure and does a great job of continually switching things up to keep you moving at pace with the track.

There are some great visual effects used to highlight particular moments of the song, such as a huge wall of text during the fan sung, “Who the hell do you think we are?” that helps emphasise the increased sense of scale and how it wouldn’t have been possible without a huge amount of help. This also explains why the words are so much bigger than the band. There are also some nicely paced moments from Sparkles* that help to strengthen their corresponding lyrical cues (moving away from the mic to shout “GO!!!” and a very well placed fist in the sky alongside “Fight the Power”).

Unfortunately, a couple of the visual effects used in the middle of the song were a little too much. There’s a bright orange flare effect in particular that is so powerful it distracts from the band and becomes the focus for a little while, which is a shame when so much of the video is tightly focused on the performance. There’s also a flame effect that’s fantastic when used to highlight the band against a black background, but falls flat in a few shots where it’s used on the whole screen rather than to highlight aspects of the performance.

giga-drill-cover-3_3As the video progresses we start to see little graphical glitches, which increase in frequency and intensity as we get closer to the end of the track. When the final chunk of the song starts to pick up the pace and get more frantic, the visuals do the same and begin to become more erratic and jumbled in time with the music. We see quick cuts of what appears to be the band recording in the studio, weird pixellated areas, chunks of bright colours and faster cuts from one band member to the next, culminating in the band ending with a bang and relaxing in front of a plain and empty greenscreen.

It’s a fantastic video for capturing the band’s live energy, but it’s not without its problems here and there. The single and video are definitely designed more as a love letter to existing fans than anything else, but there’s nothing wrong with that as they pull it off exceedingly well.

The single is also being released with a B-side, a special full length and whole band version of the song All The Lights In The Sky. Originally a small acoustic section within the much larger Bōsōzoku Symphonic end track. I complained about this track in my review because, despite the strength of its individual parts, it didn’t work terribly well as a whole. I felt the five tracks would have been better served as individual songs, each given their own space to breathe on the album. That’s exactly what they have done to All The Lights In The Sky, the best part of the whole ATLITS album.

Unlike the original version in Symphonic which was a solo affair between Sparkles* and an acoustic guitar, this version of the track is a much more produced affair. Opening with an echoing and haunting keyboard style solo section, it was surprisingly reminiscent of the opening to My Chemical Romance’s The Only Hope For Me is You. The song then kicks in with a strong and heavy drum line, a bass rhythm that pounds and pushes the piece forward and a guitar line that somehow both delicately and forcefully dances over them, feeling like something from the beginning of the final battle from some epic quest.

When Sparkles* comes in with the vocals, which initially seem to be identically performed when compared to the original incarnation of the track, much of the audio is stripped back. Drums become a spaced out and low affair, much like the bass which keeps the ambience to the track without distracting from the beautiful lyrical content. It’s really nice to see the bass brought a little more to the front of the mix, which was something that was disappointingly buried in the mixes of many of the album’s tracks.

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At particularly emotional moments in the lyrical sound map, the rest of the full band sound we saw in the opening start to slowly build in. The music builds in intensity and power gradually, peaking at moments when Sparkles* is plateauing lyrically or his voice is beginning to break into a scream or tremble or some sort. As soon as his voice comes back down, the guitar fades away to once again focus on the drums and the bass.

The latter part of the track is a much more loud and dramatic effect than it was in the acoustic track on the album. We spend the end of the track listening to a more desperate interpretation rather than listening to a mournful and quiet rendition of the lyrics; something that feels less resigned to its fate and more like it’s screaming out in desperation. The track doesn’t want to give up on what it lost in the lyrics, it’s straining with everything it has to grasp desperately at any chance it has to get it back.

Initially I was a little unsure about this version of the track, which took away the simple and pure clarity of the original and replaced it with what seemed unnecessary layers of additional noise. Yet the more I have listened to it, the more it has grown on me. It’s a different musical interpretation of lyrics I’d come to relate deeply to in recent months, but an equally valid one. Giving it space to breath and stand alone from Bōsōzoku Symphonic has definitely helped it to become a more powerful stand alone track, one that would have been its defining moment had it appeared in this state on the album. It’s rather amazing to listen to, but did take me time to adjust to after connecting emotionally to the tone of the original acoustic interpretation.

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4 Comments

  1. HenryBown says:

    Very excited right now 😀

  2. Veronica Phillips says:

    Awesome! I can’t wait to hear it, now!

  3. evanthekettle says:

    A fantastic review which has gotten me very excited for tomorrow 😀

  4. […] Heaven Piercing Giga Drill Single Review […]

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