ARRAYAN PATH should not be an unfamiliar name to the seasoned power metal listener. The band has been around for almost 20 years, delivering “Class A+++” power metal with some symphonic elements. Needless to say that I consider them to be on the premier European power metal bands since even their most mediocre moments (for example “Chronicles of Light”) are somewhere above mediocrity.
The band made an impressive comeback a year ago with “The Dawn of Aquarius” (their best effort since 2011 “Ira Imperium”) and made a promise that they would release another album in less than a year which would be closer to their earlier works. And indeed, not a year has passed and the new album is ready: a double album with almost 80 minutes of music, an ambitious feat and a journey to the early days of the band whence the sound was raw, epic with an underground essence.
Well, the idea of returning to the primordial sound is quite controversial. The band has evolved through the years but not to the point to forsake their benchmark sound that includes pompous choruses, lyrical melodies and a majestic atmosphere. And these elements are revisited here. “Archegonoi” is a solid power metal album, a hymn to the principal power metal gods and the band once more praises HELLOWEEN, VIRGIN STEELE, WARLORD (after all, Nicolas Leptos is the new Damien King), QUEENSRYCHE, RHAPSODY (in the symphonic parts/orchestral arrangements) etc.
Though the sound is quite modern, the album does not stray from its underground roots. ARRAYAN PATH was (and still is) a purely underground band with a genuine metal heart and soul something which is engraved in every song of the album. As usual, most of the songs are sprinkled with middle-eastern and Mediterranean melodies while the production is crystal clear. To be honest I expected something more rough, more aggressive guitar playing and a more straight metal approach, maybe something closer to the “Astronomikon” album (a side project by the Leptos cousins), yet I cannot say that I wasn’t carried away by the music.
Songs like “Waving The Web of Destiny”, “Rod of Asclepius” or “Bellerophon” sound as if they were taken from “Terra incognita”, while more direct songs like the epic “Seven Against Thebes”, “Where the Hydra hides” or the stunning “Thermopylae 480 BC” are more guitar driven and have an eerie “Road to Macedonia” feeling. Needless to mention that each song is a league on its own, a different story, a lonesome journey to an age gone but not forgotten, just imagine fourteen small rhapsodies blended together into a dreamy heavy metal engulfment.
What should be praised is both the musicianship of the band and the performance of Nicolas. While the band is fully capable of composing long complex tunes, they do not putter themselves into meaningless improvisations or lengthy solos. The songs are progressed parallel to their stories and they are finished when the story reaches its end. The performance of Nicolas is great. In case you have never heard of him imagine a deep resonant voice with different emotional fluctuation whenever the song requires it: for example there is a fully dramatic performance in “The Words of Menelaus” that brings into life the tragedy of the King of Sparta, while a couple of songs later in “The Lion of Amphipolis” the vocals are harsher but with an pompous vibe.
To sum up I’d say that if you expected a new “Road to Macedonia” then you will be disappointed. Yet if you let yourselves be lured by the songs you will discover one of the best albums of the year.
Cheers to ARRAYAN PATH for another great record.