Arryan Path - Terra incognita 3.5/5

Reviewed: 5-1-10





Tracklist:

1. Cassiopeia
2. Molon lave
3. Terra incognita
4. Open season
5. Ishtar
6. The blood remains on the believer
7. Elegy
8. Angel with no destination
9. Minas tirith
10. The mind (bonus track)


The little interconnected group of Cypriot bands that includes Diphtheria, Prodigal Earth and Arryan Path have been fairly busy over the last few years, with a CD being released by all 3 of the acts featuring vocalist Nicholas Leptos. Arryan Path were the first to break out, with their debut ‘Road to Macedonia’ now 6 years old, but were eventually being pushed onto the backburner as Leptos and friends made a belated release for Diphtheria’s long-delayed CD and worked on the new Prodigal Earth project. I’ll be honest, I’ve shed no tears for the absence of Arryan Path, as for all the decent songs that featured on their debut it was an endlessly frustrating listen – so much so that I don’t think I’ve revisited it once since I reviewed it for this site a couple of years back.

A collection of songs cobbled together from the band’s convoluted history, it lacked any sort of even flow or direction, and felt every bit the piecemeal effort that it was, with ballads and crawling, lengthy epics spread about in truly haphazard fashion.

Thankfully, the regrouped band – still featuring Leptos and his guitarist brother Socrates, with session keyboard player George Kallis being promoted to full member status – seem to have acknowledged the failings of the debut, as ‘Terra incognita’ is a much more focused and overall rewarding listen that feels like it was written with a definite plan in mind.

The length of the songs has generally been pared down considerably, though in a slightly strange move that actually works quite nicely, the opening song “Cassiopeia” is the longest on the CD by a considerable distance at 9 minutes. Rather than have the band stumbling out of the traps though, it sets the tone quite nicely with its sweeping orchestrations and simple-though-effective riffs. The chorus, sped up as the song proceeds, is another strong point and a good showcase for the fine vocals of Leptos.

Greek mythology continues to be the main focus of his lyrics, and the follow-up track “Molon lave” is another visit by a metal band to the Battle of Thermopylae. Maybe not the most original place to look for inspiration, but the atmosphere created across the CD by the open-ended riffs and Kallis’ stirring keyboard arrangements (thankfully now well clear of the cheap and cheesy sound of the debut) fit snugly with these classical themes and it is this sense of wonderment that provides ‘Terra incognita’ with its greatest strength.

“Molon lave” is an example of the more direct approach found on the shorter songs, and its Helloween-influenced melodies and inspiring chorus quickly add a bit of immediacy after the slow-burning opener. The CD’s shortest song, “Angel with no destination” is also well placed, providing a quick burst of energy before the closing epic “Minas tirith”, which benefits from the moderation shown on the preceding songs to really stand out. The addition of the bonus track “The mind” interrupts the flow a little, but does not do any damage as the song is a worthy addition to the collection.

The huge improvement between this CD and its predecessor only serves to highlight the point I made in the previous review about balance – many of the songs on ‘Road to Macedonia’ can easily hold their own against those found here, but the steadiness Arryan Path have found between pace and style this time is crucial to its success as a whole. This time it will be a disappointment if they vanish for another 6 years.



CREAG




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