Until Rain - Season V - (9/10)
Published on May 22, 2019
Until Rain is a properly established progressive metal act, with a catalog of 4 studio albums behind them that clearly showcases the band’s evolution. With 2013’s Anthem to Creation showing them at the peak of their technicality and 2017’s Inure taking an unexpected turn towards a heavier, down-tuned and very impactful sound, the Greeks now throw another curveball. The band’s fifth studio release “Season V” sees them exploring the experimental, melodic and atmospheric directions of their music. It is particularly less energetic than their previous releases, but all the more emotional and well balanced. I actually found this one to be a very relaxing and calming listen, thanks to the more chill approach they have towards riffs, drums and all the metal elements. Though very progressive and not exactly catchy, their style on this album is still quite easy to get into, thanks to the strong emphasis on melody and a very user-friendly overall sound that never gets tiring or difficult to follow. Keeping a steady tempo and turning their focus towards emotion and musicality, they gave this album a pleasant, unique ambience that makes it suitable for an active listen as well as background sound for your day.
“Season V” is also living proof that you don’t need to play fast in order to be technical. The devil’s in the details here because beneath the friendly appearance there is a constant stream of intricacy that is directed to fill in any empty spaces and amp up the groove (I’m particularly keen on the cymbal work). I guess with this album, they matured to the point where making a good song is more of a priority than sounding heavy or playing fast, and though I can’t say I like it more than their previous ones, it was certainly more surprising and took a very unexpected approach. But despite the tuned-down feel of the music, they still manage to build up some momentum and get properly heavy from time to time, thanks to the really full sounding guitar effect and their ability to throw in a headbanging pattern here and there without shifting the mood of the song.
The piano sound and the use of clean guitars is also an important element that conveys a lot of clarity, leaving space to breathe and also allowing the depth of the bass stand out. The great use of ghost notes and drum fills also brings a lot of extra flavor to the music. And the album is very well produced so that all the subtle intricacies can be heard and the intention of the songs comes through in full.
The vocal performance is very good, conveying emotion very well. It actually reminded me of Ross Jennings from Haken from time to time (Especially in the intro track). They also have a few surprises in store, just in case the album might get a bit monotonous and the best of them is the occasional, very well placed use of screams that give a sudden burst of power and completely shift the song’s energy. At times the instrumentals also change the atmosphere, turning more menacing and even a little dissonant where the vibe of the song calls for it. The jazzy fusion style of the guitar and keyboard solos in Qualia is a very good example of that. The female backing vocals are also an element that enriches their soundscape and blends well with the keyboard background.
Another element that can’t go unmentioned is the guest appearance of Vicky Psarakis (The Agonist) on “The Long Break” where she delivers a very warm and soothing performance. I guess the only disappointing thing for me was the lack of longer songs like they had in the past, which allowed them to expand and sound a lot more epic. But I guess that’s not what this album is about. And although I think I liked the previous two albums better, what I really love about this one is just how unique it feels. Until Rain simply refuse to settle in any pattern and try to make something different with every record. And it’s definitely the kind of music that grows on you so take your time with this one.