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Raving Season - Amnio

Raving Season – CD Review

Raving Season


CD Info
My Kingdom Music
9 Tracks
English Lyrics

Raving Season have chosen a whimsical description for the style of music they play on their debut full-length album: “Dreaming Decadent Gothic Doom.” That’s accurate enough but incomplete. It doesn’t do justice to the band or the album. A more accurate description, however, would be ponderously unwieldy. It would have to be something like “Gothic symphonic progressive experimental atmospheric funeral doom with added melodic death metal near the end.”

The compositions on Amnio are anything but constrained to a particular genre. The album is a soaring exploration of many styles within the ambit of doom and Gothic. Raving Season reflects one of the things I love most about modern metal, which is its willingness to absorb multiple influences and blur the boundaries between genres. On reflection, I were asked to describe the type of metal we have here, the best answer would be: “Bloody good!”

As a guideline for metalheads who won’t know the band at all, they’ve named some established bands that play similar music. The list includes biggies such as Draconian and My Dying Bride. The biggest differences between Raving Season and those bands is that this outfit from Italy is more experimental and, more significantly, uses two female vocalists rather than the combination of male dark voice and female soprano.

Amnio is not the first release by Raving Season. They recorded an EP, The Brightness Of My Disaster, in 2009. It was self-released. For Amnio they have a different line-up as well as the backing and quality studio production made available to them by My Kingdom Music. That was a sensible signing. The label has found musical gold in this band. Let’s hope they can convert it into the sort of gold that pays the rent. I’d like to see Raving Season build a solid fan base and be with us for a long time.

On the technical side, Federico Truzzi produced the album at Lemonhead Studio. It was mastered by Greg Chandler, of Esoteric, at Priory Recording Studio. Together they engineered excellent sound balance and a haunting, resonating atmosphere that fits the music the way my skin used to fit me before it became old and flabby.

Music begins in the mind. For Raving Season, it started in two minds, housed respectively in the heads of Sergio (guitars) and Marco (bass). They’re the composers. Maybe it’s the air in Rome, or the water, but it imbued these two guys with remarkable inventiveness.

All four of the instrumentalists on Amnio are top caliber. Marco S. (guitar) and session drummer Luca do full justice to the writing of Sergio and the other Marco. And you’re correct, the band members use only their first names. There were other session musicians involved in the recording, providing a rich orchestral backing that includes strings, piano and electronic keyboards.

So to the vocalists, Judith and Federica. To quote from the album notes, they reflect the soul of Raving Season. They do it in a way I would sum up as: “Yowser!” Judith channels her skill, range, versatility and obvious training into whatever delivery best suits each passage of music. Her range encompasses full operatic style, the high melody of symphonic metal, the breathy intimacy of Gothic metal and the somber tones of doom. Federica is the dark vocalist, the growler. Her voice is higher and less brutal but has the same type of timbre as the growling of my benchmark for female dark vocals, Angela Gossow of Arch Enemy. Much of Judith and Federica’s singing is a dialogue. In passages where they sing together, the blend of sweet-and-harsh is captivating.

The track placement on the album is intelligent and thoughtful, from the splendid and very operatic opening to the deeply atmospheric ending. The songs flow into each other smoothly, but with good contrasts of structure, pace and impact.

I don’t go much for track-by track reviews. In the case of Amnio, though, I definitely want to mention four of the nine songs in a little detail. They represent all the qualities of the album and the band.

Track 1, “Turandot,” is a worthy salute to Puccini’s early 20th century opera of the same name. Puccini’s work is a dark and sorrowful opera with a strong Gothic theme, even though it’s based on a Chinese story. Federica’s dark opening vocals are a preface to a performance by Judith that could easily grace the Milan opera house, La Scala. This song could also be a nod of acknowledgement to Wagner, who pioneered doom in the 19th century. He designed a super-deep, monster bass to play lower and more disturbing notes than anyone had heard before.

Track 2, “Dusk Dance,” transitions into a song which is more subdued but no less insistent. When I close my eyes while this one is playing, I see silvery-blue twilight with ominous clouds gathering on the horizon.

Track 3, “My Last Murderer,” presents a movingly forceful dialogue between the vocalists. It also illustrates how much importance the composers place on the orchestral backing as well as the front instruments. The piano interlude, for example, is sublime.

For their finale – track nine, the title song, “Amnio” – the band defines the overall message of the album. The title is borrowed from “amniotic,” the fluid that surrounds and protects the child in the womb. The lyrical opening condenses into the hypnotic pulsing of a tiny heartbeat surrounded by its own ocean. The music returns – it is born – in the most beautiful guitar solo on the album.

How many times would I like to listen to this album? I’ve played it quite a few times already. I’ll be playing it often.

Score: 9.25 / 10

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