Whilst not the biggest of labels out there, Argonauta Records has delivered some real treats over the last couple of years that still manage to get regular plays here at Chez Spenny, no mean feat when I look at the ever grown stacks of CDs that that long since outgrown the number of shelves I have access to and are looking like maxing out another hard drive (yes, I have advanced to that level of technology folks!). As such Season of Arrows’ debut release ‘Give it to the Mountain’ was one that I was happy to receive, especially in light of the good buzz surrounding it.

After the initial ethereal acoustic start, album opener ‘Farewell to the Horsemen’ immediately shows that the band are not in thrall to the stereotypical Country and Western music that is so closely associated with their native Nashville, heavy riffs and pounding rhythms competing for attention with the vocals of Stormie Wakefield, as if Messrs Iommi, Ward and Butler had ignored the advert saying “Ozzy Zig needs a gig” and instead recruited a young Grace Slick to front their band. This continues with ‘Deep Graves’ continues in the same vein, but less frantically, the vocals becoming looser and more laconic as the beats slow, echoing through the music like a cry across the mountains, the lyrics exploring the themes of dark dreams and melancholia so beloved of the fans of doom. A trippier, almost psychedelic delivery to the vocals in ‘Evening Lord’, along with more technical, indeed edging toward proggy guitar work, all before resorting to the dreamy sound that is somewhat their signature sound in the longer, gentler ‘Autumn Wings’, a track that wanders hypnotically through the forest of the lyrics.

Stoner vibes abound in ‘The Bridge’, whilst in ‘New Sorcery’ the laid back vocals build up into a shrill near frantic scream that pierce through and rail against the looping beats and guitar lines, the disparate elements fighting against each other for musical ascendency before they join together in a tranquil, relaxing accord in the somewhat incongruously named ‘Bellow.’ The album is brought to a close by the suitably epic ‘From Wilderness We Return’, where all the elements that the band had demonstrated in the rest of the album come together in one track that is practically a mission statement. Guitars range from blasting sustain to the relaxed; drum and bass go from heavy bludgeoning to gentle caresses, and the vocals go from the near somnambulant to angry shriek and back again, all within the space of single track.

‘Give it to the Mountain’ has a distinctly retro feel to it, and it is clear that the band has had a solid grounding in the likes of Black Widow and Jefferson Airplane, as much as later and heavier acts that are the staple diet of all true doom fans. Furthermore, there is not one weak element to the delivery of the album, be it the vocals, instruments, engineering, or even the suitably magical sleeve. As debut albums go, ‘Season of Arrows’ have one hell of a lot to be proud of, and have created a solid foundation on which to build their future.

(7/10 Spenny Bullen)