Arrayan Path – Chronicles of Light (Pitch Black Records)Monday, 25th January 2016
Together since 1997 and adding an extra ‘a’ to their name in 2011, Greek epic/power metal band Arrayan Path arrive at their fifth studio record with Chronicles of Light. Fortunate to take in their last two albums for other webzines, let’s just say that 2011’s Ira Imperium was a little too predictable and the drumming not up to snuff, while 2013’s IV: Stigmata showed steady improvements in the riffs and melodies. Always willing to give a proverbial second (in this case third) chance, a few spins of this 10 song effort reveals the good and the bad for this long-running outfit.
Epic can mean different things to different people – in the case of this quintet, drama unfolds through the wide reaching delivery of singer Nicholas Leptos (the man loves him some Fabio Lione and DC Cooper for certain) and the slower, churning riffs that can add more tension to the normal power proceedings. Exemplary lead breaks during “The Distorted Looking-Glass” give off a neo-classical vibe while remaining tasteful and not too shred-oriented to plunge into glorified Malmsteen mumbo-jumbo. The higher octane follow-up “Orientis” gives drummer Stefan Dittrich a chance to stretch his fill chops and double bass classiness, the main hooks obviously throwing an exotic/ Middle Eastern texture while marching along as an 80’s Riot meets Virgin Steele-ish performance.
You can also hear a lot of Manowar, old Crimson Glory, and possibly a pinch of Tad Morose in terms of the pacing and harmonic elements both vocally and musically, be it during the slower, more emotionally driven “Ignore the Pain” or when Arrayan Path chooses to flex a little of their musical bombast with bells, whistles, and Iron Maiden harmonies during the 7:51 “Lex Talionis”. Special guest vocals, guitarists, and keyboards give the band a wider canvas to develop ideas upon – without losing sight of the fact that this is epic/power metal to the tee.
Drawbacks to full appreciation include some of the unintentional but laughable narrative elements (the cackling from a cave for “December” not believable to these ears), and the occasional tendency for Nicholas to conquer the aural landscape when subtle features or lower melodies will do just fine. In the end Chronicles of Light won’t disappoint the Arrayan Path faithful, but probably won’t gain legions to their cult status.