Arrayan Path - Ira imperium 3.5/5
1. Die irae
2. Gnosis of Prometheus
3. Ira imperium (The damned)
5. 77 days til doomsday
6. Katherine of Aragon
7. Emir of the faithful
8. Hollow eyes of Neferititi
10. Lost Ithaca
11. I sail across the seven seas
12. The fall of Mardonius
13. The poet aftermath
Arrayan Path are well on their way to proving that first impressions can often be highly misleading. Their sturdy 2nd CD, ‘Terra incognita’ showed that they had far more to offer than evidenced on their misfiring debut, and they have now taken another assured step with ‘Ira imperium’.
Despite the addition of the extra letter A to their name (silly story), not a great deal has changed between ‘Terra incognita’ and ‘Ira imperium’ other than a bolstering of the group’s line-up to a full 6-piece, and perhaps a slight sharpening of their songwriting.
A great deal longer than ‘Terra incognita’, ‘Ira imperium’ nevertheless features none of the 8-minute-plus songs that were something of a trademark for the band in their early days, and while probably just slightly stronger than its immediate predecessor it displays more variety of style and displays their greatest focus on speed and aggression yet.
That said though, the sound presented her will be familiar to anyone with past experience of the band, Nicholas Leptos’ recognisable voice still leading the charge over a collection of driving epic riffs that are interchangeably laced with grand orchestral bombast, inspirational power metal lead parts and traditional Greek and Middle Eastern touches.
Keyboard players George Kallis is also given a more expanded role this time around, with more orchestrated sections bolstering the songs (not least the majestic intro itself) and making for a more stylish experience all round.
“Katherine of Aragon” is a song that gives airtime to the slight doom metal vibe Arrayan Path have played with over the years, built on a crushing riff set and menacing guitar lines, but it is in a definite minority. Steadfast mid-paced riffing still forms the foundation of much of the CD, but the power metal influence is on the rise and ‘Ira imperium’ probably features the most uptempo material they have yet written.
“77 days til doomsday” is the most out-and-out power metal song, icy keys backing the galloping guitars and Leptos excelling on a despair-filled chorus. “Amenophis” is the shortest of the bunch but is also arguably the band’s most aggressive and condensed song to date, benefiting from some intense riffing.
Despite the power metal being on the rise – never a bad thing, is it? - Arrayan Path still find time for a few unexpected twists along the way, and they have managed to strike that fine balance between variety and disjointedness. “Lost Ithaca” sounds to all the world a ballad during its whimsical acoustic introduction, but thickens up nicely and still retains a sorrowful feeling via a truly excellent chorus and a magical, pirouetting guitar solo.
“Emir of the faithful” is another winner (the lyrics about the progressive minded Muslim legend also being a breath of fresh air), its grand symphonic intro leading into an emotional and highly atmospheric piece. The closing track (on the CD version at least) “The poet aftermath” follows the increased symphonic leanings through to their natural conclusion, as Leptos sees the CD out backed only by piano and orchestration on a beautiful, moving ballad.
With a lot of songs that have considerable individual charms as well as fitting into the bigger picture of the CD as a whole, ‘Ira imperium’ is the best CD Arrayan Path have released so far. The good work begun on ‘Terra incognita’ is continued and expanded upon here to form a highly satisfying bunch of songs that show a band in a rich vein of creative form.
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