Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Patrick Stolley
It stands to reason that Simon Neil, the lead singer of arena and festival-rocking Scottish band Biffy Clyro would feel the need to write about mountains and the sea fairly often. They're huge and they're nearly impossible to put into any quantifiable package. Mountains are steep slopes of conquerable, rocky terrain that have their own adapted species of animals and very personable and specific climates. Any things that can forcibly rupture from the ground protrude to the heavens like a permanent thorn, as well as be snow-capped and majestic year-round, is something to behold. The same goes for the oceans, bodies of unfathomable depths, filled with mysterious and unknown beings all feeding on other mysterious and unknown beings to stay alive, just lurching and hunting. They stretch out from our limited shoreline or ship-assisted vision as far as our perception can go and then our sight ultimately ends, but that's where the waters continue to expand. There's no possible way to understand that magnitude - for the scientific man or the layman. Neil, fronting this burgeoning rock group that's quickly on the road to stardom that could someday be on par with an act such as Muse or Kasabian, delivers in these mighty connections to his life and all of the things that happen in it to these unspeakably gargantuan elements that couldn't be further from being manmade. He sings about being a mountain and being a sea on the song "Mountains," from the group's latest album, "Only Revolutions." Elsewhere on it, he sings, "In control of the morning/In control of the sea," on "Bubbles," two very impossible abilities from anyone's standing. And there's much conversation on "Only Revolutions," to suggest that there is much morality discomfort or a sort of dislodged understanding of where the good and the evil come from and also how they're both processed or dealt with. Neil sings of the two biggest forces and merrymakers of good and evil - the man in the white with the halo and the man in the red with the bifurcated tongue - often and suggests that at least hearing them both out, might not be such a ludicrous plan. On "God & Satan," he says so almost verbatim, "I talk to God as much as I talk to Satan cause I wanna hear both sides." It's a dilemma of mammoth proportions that can get to a person and really work them over some. These are the dilemmas that seem to give Biffy Clyro the sort of power to invoke full arenas of people to sing in unison with their hooky choruses and to withstand such a booming volume that it will bring visible blood to the ears. The bearded Neil, bassist James Johnston and drummer Ben Johnston, on this session, are more subdued, executing the songs with more of a gentle finesse, downplaying the bombast and the songs' able qualities to send shivers through masses, consumed by a wellspring of participation, in the same way people sing "City of Blinding Lights," back at Bono, The Edge, Larry and Adam, as if there were no tomorrow.