This is the début album from Italy's Artaius, containing a number of different moods and even musical styles, a great way to start off our return to reviewing with such an eclectic record.
On Italy's Moonlight Records, The Fifth Season is probably best described as a progressive-folk-metal album, although those three terms tacked together don't do it any justice.
The folk overtones come from some of the more unconventional (in metal, at least) tones of the flute and violin, which give an almost mediaeval feel to passages in the music.
Sara Cucci's vocals float over the wistful, folksy melodies provided as a backdrop by the rest of the band, who will step sideways freely to more metallic sounds frequently.
There would always be the possibility of such a juxtaposition sounding forced, but not here.
There is an almost Genesis/early Marillion-esque feel to the keyboards at least in some places (see the festival sing-along of Over the Edge, for instance), and there are even elements of Jazz present in places, and sombre piano sections.
The flute doesn't sound out of place here, often trading off passages against the keyboard, and it got me thinking of appearances of woodwind in metal – surely there's not too many?
I'm prepared to be wrong though. La Vergine E Il Lupo is the stand-out track for me, showcasing everything about the band in just under five minutes.
All in all, a very European romp through some sounds probably not visited too often by Thee Claw – but a refreshing change!
Available through Moonlight Records (Italy)