Aexylium is a folk–metal band that sprang from Varese, Italy in 2014. They play in the bardic-Celtic, tradition of folk music to be precise. The group consists of eight members who produce an authentic, traditional vibe throughout the their first studio album, Tales From This Land.
We are introduced to the album with “Prelude To a Journey,” which conjures up a sense of spring and Celtic air with Gabriela Guarino’s flute, Federico Bonoldi’s violin, and Stefano Colombo’s piano work. The piano work suddenly switches to a synthesizer tone, and Roberto Cuoghi’s guitar chord soars through, signaling a journey is indeed about to begin. Matteo Morisi’s drums do a great job coming in on a rolling beat as all the instruments come together in unison before calmly going back to the intro-like atmosphere.
“Black Flag” feels like you have just walked into an alehouse because of the traditional instrument section before the singer, Steven Mirani, begins. This frontman rebel-yells about his past seafaring battles. This is a song to raise your glass and cheer.
“Into The Jaws of Fenrir” starts with a violin-heavy melody and an accompanying drum section before the flute kicks in. The aforementioned guitarist and the lead guitarist, Fabio Buzzago, do a stellar job with the stop and go riffing. The vocalist unleashes his beast side by growling while the guitars do power runs, before going back to the beauty-style vocals. This song is a constant battle with the singer’s tones with very nice instrumentals complementing the various moods.
“Aexylium” is a huge ode to pirate metal reminiscent of Alestorm Korpiklaani. The beats are mostly upbeat. This is the first time on the album when the bassist, Gabriele Cacocciola, is spotlighted as a talented bassist, even demonstrating that he uses his fingers, which is evident in his small solo lick.
“My Favorite Nightmare” strays away from the album’s formula. It starts as straight-up symphonic metal, then borders on power metal with hints folk, followed by an epic and emotional ballad showcasing the lead guitarist’s work. I personally found this interesting and shows the band can play with multiple styles.
“Banshee” is a flowing, airy song that highlights the flute player for the intro. We are treated to a surprising Children of Bodom-esque lick suddenly. This song is pure growl and borderline symphonic-melodic death metal. No clean singing here.
“Tales From Nowhere” starts with a gallant power metal vibe with virtually no folk-metal elements, but it doesn’t mean fans who are already enjoying the album won’t like it. It’s refreshing to hear a power-metal song on a folk-metal album because it can get a bit busy in both genres. We can also finally hear a full-length solo from Fabbio Buzzago.
Ok, I was wondering when the bagpipes would come in! “Revive The Village” starts with Roberto Cuoghi (also the guitar player) playing the bagpipes. This song is so damn Celtic and punk influenced, it makes me want to listen to Dropkick Murphys right after. The bassist also clearly shows his tight finger bass playing again.
“The Blind Crow” is a more serious folk-metal song, a change from the happy partying vibe with a sense of a perilous adventure. This is the part of the album where the heroes are struggling the big fight and things look the bleakest. It’s really complemented by the use of wailing, artificial harmonics and the march into war rhythm, as well as the deep guitar solo.
“Judas’ Revenge” starts off with music that sounds like countless RPGs then kicks into full gear. The vocalist also utilizes his mids more in this song, there’s more rasp than usual. This is another fist-pumping song with elements of pirate metal. There’s a “Yo-ho-h-o and a bottle of rum” energy in this track.
The final song “Radagast” starts with a tribal beat with the most upbeat accordion patch from a keyboard I’ve heard in a while. It goes from an ultra-happy sensation to what I can only call folk-thrash, followed by a layered interlude accentuating the non-distorted instruments before going into a keyboard flute battle. It’s a weird mix, but it works!
All in all, I have very high expectations for this band due to their eclectic take on mixing styles, but not straying too far away from the norm. They just need to keep honing the direction, it’s on the right track for sure! I’m not even a big fan of folk metal, yet I just became a fan of Aexylium!
Written by Peter Lountzis
*edited by Kate Erickson