A Bitter Season
And I Won’t Lose In The End
Anarchy Studios, Houston TX 2011
by Andrew C Schlett
One of the coolest things about being editor of Rivethead Magazine is that all the time I have random people coming up and giving me new music. This was the case some months ago, one night while I was hanging out at On The Rox and talking to the bartender. I told him about this webzine and what it is that I do, and then he asked me to excuse him for a moment while he went to the back. When he returned, he gave me a CD from his band – who I had never heard of – and asked me to check it out. This is cool, I thought. I always like to hear music that I haven’t heard before, but life goes on and it sat in my truck for at least a week. By the time I finally got around to popping it into the deck, though, I was pleasantly surprised. Not only did it not suck, but it was actually pretty freakin’ good! This bartender, who I only knew as John, is in fact John Valenti, lead singer of the band, and man, this cat can sing!
Before I go any further into this review, I feel obliged to point out to the reader that I’m not the biggest fan of Nu-metal or of screamer bands. Groups like Bullets For My Valentine, Atreyu, or As I Lay Dying generally leave me cold, and it has been my sad fortune to realize, after taking over this webzine and immersing myself back into music, that the whole screamer thing is rather commonplace amongst the metal of today. Nobody really sings anymore, and although I realize that screaming is an art unto itself, it’s still not one that I get behind or endorse. If I could change anything about modern music, I would fire all the screaming singers and replace them with singers who actually sing. Screaming has its place, but that can’t be all you got.
Then along comes A Bitter Season. Their debut disc And I Won’t Lose In The End fits the generalizations of the bands listed above, but it also features a raw blackness underneath it that sets it apart and makes it deeper, more well-rounded and enjoyable than any of those. Hailing from right here in Houston, A Bitter Season has released a come-out disc of both immensity and substance. All of the eight songs on this CD are solid, and although a few stand out above the others, the simple truth is that none of them are weak. Lead singer Valenti, who sings with power and screams only when appropriate, his brother Gino Valenti on guitar, along with Nathan Landry on bass and Willis Robertson on drums, have put together a progressive-metal 4-piece with a very full and hard-rockin’ sound.
It is John Valenti’s superb vocal work and insightful lyricism that sets A Bitter Season apart from other bands working in the same general genre. Songs like “Curses”. “Alone”, and “In Front of a Bullet” reflect depth and poetic structure, while throwing in just enough emo to make it heartfelt but not sickening. There’s no mush here, but there is meaning and intenseness that many other bands simply lack. All this is carried along on music that is well-constructed and heavy; Gino Valenti’s guitar work is nothing less than flawless, Landry’s bass thumps along with steady rhythm, and Robertson’s drums beat out a complex and driving tempo reflective of the best drummers working today. The song “Stay Alive” is noteworthy of all the attributes listed above, but as I said, none of this material is weak, just some of it is better. This is a disc that must be cranked up, it’s not the sort of thing that you can just hum along to, the frenzy and musical intensity that never let up sweeps the listener along like a freight train until finally the disc is over and you only find yourself wanting to hear it again.
I have, in the time since Valenti gave me this disc and my sitting down to review it, heard of A Bitter Season since then. They play in and around the Houston area with some frequency, and it is Rivethead Magazine’s recommendation that you see them if you can. There’s way too many bands out there putting out crap or sub-crap, it’s damned refreshing to hear one that’s not putting out any crap at all. Honestly, after listening to this disc like a dozen times before I even started writing about it, I still can find absolutely nothing about it that I don’t like. That’s pretty rare!
As well as finding them out playing clubs and venues, you can also find A Bitter Season on the web. They’re active on Reverbnation, Facebook, and MySpace, or just visit their official website. Tell them Rivethead sent ya!
By special arrangement with the band, Rivethead Magazine is pleased to offer you three songs from A Bitter Season here:
BECAUSE THE MUSIC MATTERS!!!