Merging an enterprising and imaginative mix of metal, folk, progressive rock, and various other mischievous flavours, Fifth Season the debut album from Italian band Artaius is a release which dances with the ear and stokes up the passions to the recognition that this band is an awakening force. Across its absorbing length it would be fair to say that the sound is seeded and bred in recognisable organic beds but throughout Artaius involve intriguing and unexpected twists as well as invention to set them apart from most now and as an appetising prospect of the future.
Formed in early 2008, the sextet from Sassuolo have forged an impressive in their homeland with their previous a self-produced EP and live performances which has seen them leave strong impressions alongside the likes of Furor Gallico, Kalevala, and Diabula Rasa. There is a strong Celtic breath to the folk part of their sound whilst progressive whispers call loudly throughout the weave of melodic beauty and muscular energy with metal forged riffs and rhythms adding their rage and driving attack from an opposite extreme. The striking and inspiring vocals of Sara Cucciniello wrap around the senses with warmth and elegance, though equally she can sear and elevate notes with beauty and strength upon the compelling narrative, whilst the phlegm caked growls of guitarist Andrea La Torre bring textured shadows and malevolence to the welcoming landscapes to match the music in merging extremes. His vocals do take time to grow into and at times are a limit too far and detract from the otherwise rich persuasion but never to leave a song or moment distinctly unappealing.
The Moonlight Records released album opens up a brewing emotive ambience as Make the Iguana gentle enters into view. It initial beckoning an atmosphere mist where from within bold beats from Alessandro Ludwig Agati begin to build a frame for the mesmeric whistle tempting of Mia Spattini to wrap around, both soon joined by the resonating throat of the bass of Enrico Bertoni. Once Cucciniello unveils her vocal beauty the song lifts its head further to stretch melodic smiles and temptation to new heights, though it is when the track fully slips into its eager stride and the guitar of La Torre, as well as his growls add their predatory touch that the full union seduces emotions and limbs. Continually switches its gait from gentle and inviting to charged and infectious whilst the folk and progressive wash led by the excellent and fizzing key sounds of Giovanni Grandi hones all its aural colour into a compelling narrative, the song is an absorbing and deeply pleasing start immediately continued by the next treats.
Gates of Time has sinews stretching and fires blazing from the off, riffs prowling around the ear whilst the low growls of La Torre add their own distinct menace. A magnetic groove spears the challenge, its lure twisting into a niggling yet magnetic hook with the soaring vocals of Cucciniello looking down as they touch the roof of the song and leaving scorch marks on its surface. The track swoops back into the heavy energetic crawl again but then opens up a bloom of expressive melodic revelry which is quite irresistible and has feet shuffling intently along to its call. Continually mixing up its stance and adventure as it brings the harsh and beauty of the scenario into a descriptive sonic tale, the track leaves a smile on the passions before making way for the outstanding Over the Edge to ignite ardour.
This track takes a mere second to pick up the senses and thoughts and expose them to a romp of bold frivolity and passionate merriment, the violin of guest Lucio Stefani taking charge of the virile waltz whilst group shouts and enthusiasm powers alongside the again exceptional voice of Cucciniello. The track has full recruitment of limbs, heart, and lust within mere moments but ignites that to furnace proportions by stepping into a piano sculpted jazz fuelled aside of schizophrenic enterprise. Totally unexpected and wholly devoured with greed by the ear and beyond the song soon drives back into its core attack as if nothing happened, before again flirting with the bedlamic fascination for a more intensive devilment. The track is quite brilliant and you can only wish other songs had taken their bravery of adventure as far to turn the album into a real classic.
The progressive tempest of Horizon keeps things burning brightly though the vocals of La Torre arguably have one of their less inspiring moments compensated by the keys and dramatically confrontational riffs whilst both Stairway’s End and the hungry Prophecy offer more variation and satisfaction, even if without lighting the depth of fires as their predecessors. The second part of the album does slip from the plateau earlier founded but equally there is never a moment through the likes of La Vergine e il Lupo, Wind of Quest, and Wind of Wisdom that the temptation waivers and in songs like Wind of Revenge further blazes of drama coated magnificence erupt, the song complete with a virulently addictive groove and melodic toxicity an uncompromising yet rapacious slice of folk metal.
Fifth Season is a strongly pleasing album which has moments of insatiable splendour leaving its recipient breathless. Artaius have delivered an impressive debut album which only makes you think the band will go on to greater and more startling things, and stake a claim as one of the more imaginative and exciting bands in the genre.
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