RockmusisRaider seems to be on the Power Metal train these days. It always amazes me that Cyprus seems to have this ability to churn out metal bands that keep on getting on my radar.
Arrayan Path is one of them and with their 2013 and 4th full-length record IV: Stigmata, they created another metal-laden delight that should for sure retain your attention.
I just did a review on Unleash The Archers, which pissed me off to no end. Reason being that these guys endlessly rehash the same already badly executed concept. Not realizing it does not work, like beating a dead horse all over again.
In contrast, Arrayan Path boast a pretty simple, but crystal clear and precise approach to Power Metal. And it is skillfully and thoughtfully done. Methinks, that they are detaching themselves somewhat from underneath the vile mainstream and reach their own territory. Yet they don’t do this lightly: From songwriting to lyrics, they almost put scholarly attention behind details and it shows.
A lot of the power and quality goes to Nicolas Leptos, the lead of this outfit. His very gummy-flexible vocal powers perfectly lend themselves to their style overall. And this goes from belting them lyrics at a very high reach, to melodious interludes in some of the ballads.
Added to that you will find some fucking serious riffs and solos scattered about like so many gold nuggets. Plus a somewhat bare bone, but pretty sturdy performance on guitars. With some archaic instruments sprinkled into the tune at times.
The Heavy Metal influences weave themselves seamlessly into this Cypriot Magic Carpet of theirs. Galloping sounds, Iron Maiden-esque interludes – you name it. The subtle Mediterranean and Oriental flavors and directions just round everything up into a nice metal humus. And this breeds authenticity and a sense of originality. Thus nobody will confuse this slice of metal with something from Scotland.
What I don’t like, however, is the drum work. The pretty complex drum patterns are generally down-to-earth and well-executed. But the endless drum blasts add to a feeling of overall blandness. This is not necessarily a sign of superb creativity. And overdoing the galloping scheme ain’t going to help any neither. Makes you feel like being caught between a rock and a hard place.
Now, drum work and out-of-control destriers aside, Arrayan Path have this ability to mix good quality with catchy melodies. And this, without serving everything on a mighty cheese platter. Actually, their tunes have this befuddling tendency to worm their way into your brain and take hold. And then follow you around for days.
This is by the way a streak continued in their 2015 Chronicles of Light. And it seems to be something Power Metal bands are particularly good at. Adorned with more or less cheese, whatever the case may be.
And like Epica in Symphonic Metal, Arrayan Path choose their themes with serious attention.
For instance, IV: Stigmata covers the old testament in all its gory glory. And this is a welcome change. Many bands in the Power Metal scene are on the fantasy trail or elsewhere in the epic universe. And this is fine too. But sometimes it is good to see that this genre is not only populated by the hammer swinging war crowd.
IV: Stigmata gets going with Clepsydra (water-clock), on a kind of faster-tempo Power Metal track. But with some stellar drum blasts at the very beginning to get your attention real quick. Then we got a little errand into Iron Maiden territory, until falling back to known island terrain in The Bible Bleeds. And don’t I just love the solo in this track and the crunch they created between riff and solo.
Arrayan Path‘s ability to link different tastes and flavors together gets a lot of visibility in Midnight and the First-Born Massacre. The track does a thrashy lap or two, throws in a few licks, and gallops way. With a bland song structure, kept interesting throughout by including unexpected elements.
Stigmata will impress by its low tempo, almost ballad-like structure. But it still remembers its Power Metal roots – sort of. Last, but not least, The Storyteller will impress with some subdued bombast, then launching into a pretty cool tune – again low tempo stuff.
So, how on earth did we ever call this Power Metal, if the tempi don’t fit? Because, Arrayan Path still manage to convey that – well – power to their tune. Even if sometimes, they take it slower than others.
IV: Stigmata gets the band up onto another stepping stone on this dark and ruin strewn path of theirs. And it is indeed a fitting predecessor for things yet to come later.
Impressively mixing good and precise songwriting with Mediterranean flavors yields an alluring Power Metal cocktail. A refreshing breeze in a genre that often drowns in fondue, or sloppily slithers down some screechy funnel into a tepid pool of nothingness.
Not so with Arrayan Path, though. Good album, I can only recommend it.