Warrior Path - Warrior Path - (9.5/10)
Published on February 24, 2019
Genre:Epic Power / Heavy Metal
I’ve never been disappointed by power metal from Greece. The big hitters, of course, being Firewind – followed by the likes of Emerald Sun and Wardrum. But now we have a new and, dare I say, more challenging and exploratory act to get behind and start leading the way for their country in this particular sub-genre. Warrior Path revolves around main-man Andreas Sinanoglou who provides all guitars and songwriting duties – and does an excellent job, but more on that later. He has teamed up with producer and general Greek renaissance man Bob Katsionis (yes, of Firewind fame!) and current Beast In Black vocalist Yannis Papadopoulos. Frankly, this couldn’t have been a better dream team. All parties involved kick ass in their respective fields, and it meant that Warrior Path’s first full-length self-titled effort was obviously going to be a roaring success.
This isn’t your basic swords-and-sorcery Rhapsody clone, no matter what the wonderful album art and titles like “Riders Of The Dragons” and “Valhalla, I’m Coming” might tell you. No, this is something special. When the pedal hits the metal it’s more reminiscent of old Hammerfall, and will certainly please any fan of the style. For the old guard who are easily satisfied by rapid double-kick attacks, catchy choruses and constant energy – there’s tracks like “Fight For Your Life” and the brilliantly-titled “Mighty Pirates”. These are definitely some of the most traditional old-school power metal on offer here. But the most impressive thing about Warrior Path is its many peaks and valleys. This record flows like a journey, through many different landscapes. A quick glance at the song lengths will tell you this is more than just a collection of catchy hits – it’s an album which reinforces the very concept of listening to a full album. Fuck your shuffle buttons, this one needs to be experienced from start to finish.
The semi-title-track, “The Path Of The Warrior”, was the perfect choice for a single as it’s the song that sums up all the best aspects of the album. Over the course of its 10-minute runtime, the listener is taken through mystic folk melodies, gorgeous ambience and hard-hitting riffs. When the album’s middle point feels like an epic voyage, that bodes well for the rest of the record! This track also features one of my new favourite riffs which is cleverly developed between clean and distorted guitars. On the other end of the spectrum, there are the quickfire blasts like “Sinnersworld” and “The Hunter” which inject the LP with a dose of classic Helloween-inspired power metal, yet still feel like they belong on the same album as the opening track or the 10-minute centrepiece. Speaking of the opener, “Riders Of The Dragons” is an interest choice to kick off proceedings. Maintaining a steady martial pace, it’s more anthemic and restrained than what fans of the genre would be used to as an album opener. But this only goes to prove Warrior Path have come to stand up and be counted.
This album is awash with bold decisions like the above. The amount of non-metal action going on here is definitely noteworthy (hell, there are 3 full-on ballads and countless acoustic sections). This is all performed with the same theatrical conviction as the shredding that surrounds. The melancholy “Black Night” displays Yannis at his deepest and most heartfelt; “Dying Bird Of Prey”, positioned as the penultimate track, is a truly dramatic power ballad designed to fill stadiums; and following on its heels comes the truly tear-jerking finale “Valhalla, I’m Coming”. I don’t find myself missing the fist-pumping momentum or driving heavy metal during these two tracks because they are so fucking captivating. Perfect end to a record, fellas. I expect Warrior Path will drag for the less patient amongst us, and there might be naysayers who criticize the relatively thin guitar tone. However, this album is beautifully mixed, expertly structured, and harkens back to a golden age while simultaneously forging its own halcyon days for the future. Way to go, Warrior Path – another contender for ‘power metal album of the year’.