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Area - Caution Radiation Area CD (album) cover




Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.96 | 256 ratings

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4 stars The direction Area took with their sophomore album demonstrates the sort of creative process that I often find myself most fond of. As a followup to Arbeit Macht Frei, Caution Radiation Area is not an album I find universally better or worse, but just rather different, focusing on some aspects far more while deemphasising others. This approach is quite appealing due to the way it really can demonstrate a band not being content with just sitting still and sticking to one sound, presenting a willingness to experiment and come up with something new and exciting. In the case of this album, it was clear that the band wouldn't be happy until they further explored the avant prog sound they brought to the table, taking the atonality and aggressive complexity to a whole other level. In the process there is certainly less of a focus on both groove and melody here, to the point where even any vocal inclusions sound incredibly frantic and strange. This ultimately leads to an album that seems deadset on challenging the listener, and sounding even more off the traditional beaten path of Italian prog than their already remarkably distinctive debut.

Despite probably being the most accessible track here, Cometa Rossa sets the album up perfectly, both with those jazzier elements being in the mix, and with the frantic, complex instrumentation rearing its head. While this track definitely has some form of melody to it, it all feels obscured by the band's desire to get weird with it. None of the instrumental sections or sense of rhythm stands still long enough to allow the listener to fully settle into anything, as they are instead thrown around a lot by the ensuing onslaught of ideas all condensed within a short timeframe. Tracks 3 and 5, Brujo and Lobotomia respectively, embody this approach the most prominently and cleanly. Brujo is a nonstop bombardment of jazzy proggy greatness that often times feels closer to a jumbled mess of notes as opposed to much that feels carefully composed or structured at all. It clearly has no intentions of attempting to do anything relating to finding a melody or really anything to grasp onto at all, as it flails wildly and refuses to be following the same train of thought for more than a few seconds at a time. This song also showcases a lot of the reason why the vocals manage to sound so particularly strange besides Demetrio Stratos' breathy, crazed delivery. The way the music practically cuts out, or at least tones it down majorly gives these vocals a rather eerie vibe thanks to how isolated they often sound, making for yet another layer of strangeness on top of everything else.

The album's atmosphere really reaches its peak with its final two songs. Mirage! is a long, explorative track that keeps switching between some sections of echoey, progressively intensifying vocals and somewhat more structured instrumental parts to end up with the most interesting, dynamic song on the album, with the almost space rockish atmosphere that gets established here. Lobotomia closes everything off rather nicely, being the most experimental, challenging piece here, with a somewhat sparse start quickly devolving into a wall of high pitched beeps and buzzes, bringing forth a strangely mechanical sound and ending things on an extremely memorable note. Overall I am quite a big fan of what Area did here, taking their established sound and then just going in a different direction while retaining a lot of their core sound palette and identity. The jazziness certainly still comes through, especially in the drumming, and yet, this is just considerably more insane across the board. This might have led to a compromise in terms of how memorable and "fun" the album was, but this direction is just so cool and interesting that it's a small price to pay, even if it ends up not having a songs as tremendously great as their debut's title track. If you liked the more full on elements of Arbeit Macht Frei, give this album a listen, there really is a lot to love here.

Kempokid | 4/5 |


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