Review: Season of Arrows – Give it to the Mountain

season-of-arrows-give-it-to-the-mountain.jpgWritten by Gary Hernandez

In a sea of metal it’s those bands with a distinctive element that rise to the top. I know that metaphor is bit counterintuitive—I mean, what floats in metal?—but work with me. Whether you listen to the Season of Arrows’ 2014 self-titled album or their most recent release, Give it to the Mountain, it’s the evocative vocals of Stormie Wakefield that take that honor. Her vocals and that creepy witch mascot that graces (haunts) both album covers. Iron Maiden has Eddie, Season of Arrows has  . . . her.

Season of Arrows hails from Nashville, Tennessee, but have recently moved their recoding contract to Italy with Argonauta Records. Not sure how that connection was made, but in the world of metal things like torrid oceans and frozen tundra are less obstacles than album cover fodder.

In their own words, Season of Arrows seeks to “transcend stereotypes.” Terms like “blend,” “original,” and “pioneers” are used to describe them. Argonauta’s website states their sound is a “cross between Jefferson Airplane and Black Sabbath.” Break that down and it says: incredible vocals and essentialist doom. Add to that a foreboding atmosphere of unrelenting darkness and you’re there.

One of the things I find impressive about Season of Arrows is that their discography isn’t a string of EPs interspersed with a random albums which collect previously released tracks. Season of Arrows has two full-length albums almost three years apart and one single of a Slayer cover (which never shows up on any of the albums). This says to me, Season of Arrows is about the long wave—they take their time, they’re deliberate and fully conscious of their intent (malicious or otherwise).

Another distinction for Season of Arrows is their growth. If you listen to their albums back to back, you can certainly hear the similarities—sludge-tinged riffs, ethereal yet immediate vocals, thoughtful solos, and powerful lyrics—but you can also hear growth, a maturing of style, an exploration of the new. I am eager to hear a third LP from this band, though I don’t want to wait two years for it.

As far as the album itself, Give it to the Mountain, like the band, is patient. Four tracks are over six minutes long, each telling its own story. From the first track, ‘Farewell to the Horseman’ (in my estimation the crown track of the release), to the final offering, ‘From the Wilderness We Return’ (ironically the first song written for the album), Season of Arrows remains consistent to their promise—heavy doom, incredible musicianship, spellbinding vocals. Every track, from melodic to crushing, has its place. ‘Bellow,’ the one obligatory balladic song, is as memorable in its evocation of empty solace as ‘Deep Graves’ is in its bruising tromp.

Season of Arrow reports they are a band grown out of friendships and family. Even the illustrator for their cover art is related to two of the members. Photographs of them confirm, yep, these folks are from the US south. They don’t put on pretenses in their interviews—no agenda, no mystery—just honest, straight-forward artists cranking out music they believe in. What more could you ask for? Season of Arrows is refreshing surprise in a world of sameness. 8/10

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