Saturday, June 6, 2015
Artaius "Torn Banners"
Take a little groove metal, throw in some power metal and then add a dash of folk. Once all those styles get mixed up your finished product is Italy’s Artaius.
The album, "Torn Banners," is eleven tracks of epic sounding folk metal with a slight aggressive power metal edge. Each song features dynamic musical atmospheres that can be triumphant and at the same time solemn. There is a contrasting vocal mix of clean vocals and death growls. The female singer who does the clean vocals injects great emotion into each song. I personally have never been a huge fan of the contrasting vocal style, but I think Artaius has something unique and interesting going on. For their style of epic folk metal the vocals and lyrical presentation was well captured. The singer has a beautiful melodic voice with a graceful tone. Again, not a huge fan of this type of music, but I can understand and appreciate the talents that these musicians have to offer.
The beginning of the album was a tad overwhelming. Instantly the band introduces their contrasting vocal style and there is this enormous wash of chaotic folk sounding keyboard riffs. The arrangement seemed to be sloppily recorded at first, but towards the end of the song I felt the band become slightly more coherent. Track number two, “Daphne,” as a whole was better written in my opinion. I still felt the recording of the keyboards was extremely disproportional compared to the other instruments and sounded cheesy. Though I really liked the heavy riff sections that gave the song a fierce tone. There are few other tracks like, “Leviathan” and “The Hidden Path,” where the music demonstrates a more aggressive quality that gives the songs some variation from the folk elements.
As I said before, this singer has a beautiful voice that fits the folk metal theme well. Probably the most captivating track on this album is, “Pictures of Life.” I really enjoyed the soothing acoustic guitar arrangement. Her voice matched with the calm strumming pattern is truly a harmonious sound.
The rest of the album seems to be more straightforward folk metal, but you do get the occasional Celtic style folk flute jam that reminds me of a Renaissance Fair. “Torn Banners,” the final song on this album, is another track I believed stood out amongst the rest. I thought the drummer, bassist and guitarist came up with some solid hard hitting break down sections. Also, the violin player added a unique touch when the music seemed to lean towards the heavier songwriting approach.
For a style of music that I do not particularly listen to that often, I think Artaius put out an entertaining and creative sounding release. There is no denying the overall musicianship is above average, but since I enjoy guitar leads, I was disappointed that this guitarist did not lay down any blazing solos of virtuosic proportions. Overall, if you enjoy folk music mixed with heavy metal I think this album could be to your liking. For a guy who listens to Morbid Angel and Deicide, I will admit that a song like, “Pictures of Life,” struck an emotional chord in my brain. Hey! I can’t deny beautiful sounding music when I hear it!
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