Here is one of the older records that I wanted to do for a while. RockmusisRaider seems to be on the Power Metal train these days. This time with island-infused #metal tea. 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 have 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, getting into their own territory. And they don’t do this lightly: From song writing to lyrics, they almost put scholarly attention behind details and it shows.
A lot of the power and quality is due to the lead Nicolas Leptos, lending his very gummy-flexible vocal powers to the endeavour. And this goes from belting out at a very high reach to melodious in some of the ballads we were able to hear. Added to that you will find some fucking serious riffs and solos added to the tune. Plus a somewhat bare bone, but pretty sturdy performance on guitars with a few archaic instruments sprinkled into the tune at times. Add to that a down-to-earth drum contribution (well, kind of – see below) and you will get my drift. The influences are pretty visible as well: Galloping sounds, Iron Maiden-esque interludes – you name it. But not overdone as in some other productions, but kind of woven into this Cypriote Magic Carpet of theirs. I do like the Mediterranean and Oriental influences in many of the tracks they present on this track.
What I don’t like, however, is the drum work. Pretty complex drum patterns, generally down-to-earth and well executed, but displaying endless drumblasts renders all this rather bland and 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, drumwork and out-of-control destriers aside, Arrayan Path have this ability to mix good quality with catchy melodies 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, following 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 in comparison to other bands in this #metal genre, their themes are selected 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, which is fine too. But sometimes it is good to see that this genre is not only populated by the hammer swinging warcrowd.
IV: Stigmata gets going with Clepsydra (water-clock), kind of faster-tempo Power Metal. But with some stellar drum blasts at the very beginning to get your attention real quick. The 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. Going the thrashy round, throw in a few licks and galop way. With a bland song structure then taking off, but kept interesting throughout by including unexpected elements. Stigmata will impress by its low tempo, almost ballad like structure – but still remembering that its supposed to be Power Metal of sorts. 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 song writing 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.
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