Arrayan Path – Dawn of Aquarius (Pitch Black Records)Monday, 13th November 2017
Epic/power metal with modest European flair and American-oriented finesse, Arrayan Path have a steady stream of output in their career – Dawn of Aquarius as their sixth studio record and fifth over the last eight years. A concept record surrounding the Hindu goddess Kali, it should be obvious that the narrative and occasional Eastern exotic music elements weave in and out of these thirteen tracks. The question remains for the sextet if the story line and subsequent normal stance stylistically can engage enough listeners to the Arrayan Path camp – or will this be another case of adequate but not outstanding material?
It’s quite clear through the darker, orchestral keyboard strains on “So It Shall Be Written” and “The Eleventh Mantra” that the Khan-era Kamelot years can be a circular reference point, the guitars ringing out those minor, epic chord combinations that churn along for the lyrical backstory. Nicholas Leptos as a singer has that mid-range to upper falsetto proclivity that assuredly brings about Fabio Lione, DC Cooper, or Helloween-like comparisons, especially when taking in an acoustic/electric infused ballad like “Guardian Angel”. Dynamic versatility is an asset for the record – there is theatrical, almost doom-like atmosphere for “She Who Is Primordial Wisdom”, the snake charming keyboard/guitar intricacies during “Cremation Grounds” as well as the speedier, Rhapsody-like closing power charm for “Garland of Skulls” that prove Arrayan Path can stay above stagnant trappings when executing an hour plus outing.
Yet once again, for all the pluses, the major drawback for Dawn of Aquarius lies in not achieving that left-right melody to hook combination for specific songs to stay attached long-term. Adequacy this deep into their career doesn’t allow the band to attain a wider birth of followers – or be considered for those newbies to the power/epic metal landscape when they want more bands to consume. That’s not to say there aren’t fleeting moments of greatness (“The Hundred Names of Kali Ma” probably the best of the bunch, Therion would be proud), you just wish for that quality control aspect to reach another tier that doesn’t seem to be grasped.
Proceed accordingly, as Dawn of Aquarius may check off all the standards required for epic/power metal tastes – or could send you to reach for the best Kamelot, Tad Morose, or Rhapsody records as better examples for the original thing.