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Glitter & Trauma: Why Biffy Clyro's Beginnings Are Worth Celebrating

Tuesday, 12 March 2024 Written by Huw Baines

As big as Biffy Clyro are today (and they’re massive, mate) thanks to their appetite for melding anthemic songs and a sense of spectacle, there has always been a sizeable section of their fanbase ready to get dewy-eyed about the good old days at the drop of a hat. It’s not without good reason.

At the turn of the millennium the trio — guitarist-vocalist Simon Neil and the rhythm section of twin brothers James and Ben Johnston — were part of a thrilling UK-wide post-hardcore scene that threw up bands such as Hundred Reasons, Reuben and Hell is For Heroes, putting out a trio of records that mixed bug-eyed noise with an ever-present sense of pomp and melody. Those songs mean a lot to a lot of people.

That’s why Biffy, now a stadium-conquering beast, will revisit their early days later this year with a series of shows called A Celebration of Beginnings. The band will play three dates apiece at London’s O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire and the Barrowland Ballroom in Glasgow during October, running through their 2002 debut 'Blackened Sky' in full on night one, 2003's 'The Vertigo Of Bliss' on night two, and 2004's 'Infinity Land' on night three.

Tickets go on general sale at 10am this Friday (March 15) but, before that, join us here as we take a swing into the past with five songs that sketch out precisely why Biffy’s early work continues to reverberate with both old heads and new devotees.

57 (Blackened Sky, 2001)

The thing with Biffy, even right back at the start, was their mix of proper weirdo stuff with hooks that were undeniable. On ‘Blackened Sky’ they hit the nail on the head with 57, which had also led off their ‘Thekidswhopoptodaywillrocktomorrow’ EP. This is a brutish rock song that keeps you off balance while shooting you full of endorphins. On one hand you have the almost maddening extra beat under the riff, on the other you have a pre-chorus as good as a really good chorus, and a chorus so good that it makes you forget the pre-chorus even happened. Almost 25 years later this is still absolutely unstoppable. 

Toys, Toys, Toys, Choke, Toys, Toys, Toys (The Vertigo of Bliss, 2003)

An important bridge between their first and second records. It has the reedy guitar tone and stop-start energy of ‘Blackened Sky’ but leans more heavily on the blown-out dynamics that would come to define the best moments of ‘The Vertigo of Bliss’. It bounces between tempos and guitar lines that, sometimes, only get one shot in the spotlight. But even as they rattle around like they’re going to fall apart, Biffy don’t waste a single hook. That’s important when you consider the rafter-shaking arena anthems they’d later assemble.

Eradicate The Doubt (The Vertigo Of Bliss, 2003)

The opening stanza’s blend of brittle hookiness and jarring movement offers a perfect outline of Biffy as fans of DC post-hardcore, but that’s only the start. The maximalist, molasses-thick distortion and belted chorus that follow belong to an outsized part of Biffy’s personality that remains entirely their own, for better and worse. Even at this point they couldn’t help themselves — anything big could be bigger, anything loud could be louder.

Glitter & Trauma (Infinity Land, 2004)

So, this is what it would sound like if the Rapture had Boss Metal Zone pedals sutured to their DNA. Glitter & Trauma opened ‘Infinity Land’ in a manner that was very Biffy of-the-time: it didn’t sit still, roving from its squelchy synth intro onto an acid-dosed dancefloor before crashing into a monster melody and the de rigueur crunch of distortion. At its heart is a line that will bond people together all over again this autumn. “You are the human strobe,” Neil sings. “We are like lightning.”

Bonanzoid Deathgrip (Glitter & Trauma single, 2004)

There’s some proper mad shit going 0n throughout ‘Infinity Land’ — wave hello and quietly back away from There’s No Such Thing As A Jaggy Snake, Strung to Your Ribcage et al — but spare a thought for this killer b-side, which was released alongside Glitter & Trauma. Perhaps falling foul of its similarities with …Jaggy Snake’s on-off chaos, it stands tall today as a brilliant example of the band’s ability to transpose their love of melody between states, from its almost jaunty opening into Neil’s paint-peeling screams and spiralling guitars at the midpoint. If they’re doing b-sides (they’re doing b-sides, right?) then they’re doing this.

Biffy Clyro Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Sun August 25 2024 - PORTSMOUTH Southsea Seafront
Sun October 20 2024 - LONDON O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire
Mon October 21 2024 - LONDON O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire
Tue October 22 2024 - LONDON O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire
Thu October 24 2024 - GLASGOW Barrowland
Fri October 25 2024 - GLASGOW Barrowland
Sat October 26 2024 - GLASGOW Barrowland

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