The end of 2008 saw the debut album from Artas, “The Healing” receiving some mixed but mainly positive reviews, now they have returned with their second “Riotology”. Bulging at the seams with a mammoth 16 tracks and an hour of full on metal, “Riotology” is a continuation of the call to arms theme, openly rebellious and pro-active that makes no apologies.
The Austrian quintet’s songs have some of the most aggressive riffs and noises so far this year that will be rarely surpassed in future releases. From the first full track through to the penultimate track ‘A Martyr’s Dream’ they span the metal sub genres, from heavy metal to thrash, progressive to hardcore, spawning many memorable and satisfying moments. The problem is that with so many different styles it leaves you wondering what their thoughts behind it were. I do love to see bands with variety in an album, being adventurous and challenging the listener, but Artas do this within the songs themselves and at times it does not come off.
‘Fortress Of No Hope’, the first track after the rather cool opening intro, is the perfect example of maybe too much variety with a track. It starts off with a solid metal sound then swings from thrash to old school rock, onto some of the best heavy hardcore riffs you would dream of hearing. Musically they almost get away with it, their musicianship cannot be denied or criticised but with the vocals of Obimahan Ismahil following the same route it really sticks out and dominates ones ears rather than the track itself. Imagine listening to a song sung in the style of Chad Gray (Mudvayne) turning into Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden) and then Howard Jones (Killswitch Engage) and switching back and forth but all with one voice. However, I do have to contradict myself by saying Ismahil has a great voice and in some tracks like ‘The Suffering Of John Doe’, the terrific ‘Ashes Of Failure’, and the album highlight for me ‘Mediafada’, it works very well. Countered with ones where it does not as in ‘The Day The Books Will Burn Again’ it does make “Riotology” disjointed at times.
I am not too sure the reasoning of having tracks in non English too, I have no issue with it across a whole package but when the album is 95% English it makes tracks like ‘Rassenhass’, itself a great slice of metal, seem something forbidden, a secret I am excluded from and leaving me missing something. It’s at moments like this that I guess I should have concentrated in school after all…
“Riotology” is a strong album and gives all indications that inside Artas there is a classic lurking, but right now they seem to be searching still for either their own sound or trying too hard to stand out by being almost too clever. For all of that I would say go check it out, because despite my words I have a real soft spot for this album, each time I have listened I have got more from it and I will be returning many times ahead. Maybe it will be one of those guilty pleasure we all have, but enjoy it I do; even with its ‘eccentricities’.
“Riotology” is available now on Napalm Records and you can find their official site at www.myspace.com/artasmetal