Every now and then a band comes along who absolutely rekindle my love for the Power Metal genre. PATHFINDER are one such band, and their debut album “Beyond the Space, Beyond the Time” was everything I needed to fall in love with Power Metal all over again. What I always loved about the European Power Metal scene was just how pompous and over the top bands such as RHAPSODY OF FIRE and THY MAJESTIE were like, and PATHFINDER played the style with that same sense of ridiculous pomposity.
For the uninitiated PATHFINDER are basically the ADHD lovechild of DRAGONFORCE and RHAPSODY OF FIRE. They’re as over the top and as saccharine as they come, but that’s exactly what I look to them for. Which is why there are a few slight niggles this time around (I’ll come to that shortly). Fortunately this isn’t too far away from what made the debut such an enamouring release, and PATHFINDER progress their sound just enough so that this isn’t a pure rehash of “Beyond the Space, Beyond the Time”.
“Fifth Element” isn’t a Sci-Fi film featuring Bruce Willis (sorry, couldn’t help myself). What it is, is over an hour of no-holds-barred unrestrained Symphonic Power Metal. This time around PATHFINDER have included a lot more in the way of extreme vocals, and whilst they don’t take the centre stage that often; they do annoy me as they’re totally unnecessary and uncalled for. Szymon Kostro is an ace singer, and should be left to do as he does best which is sing cleanly. Another difference from the debut is that the arrangements don’t feel as fully well realized on the “Fifth Element”. This works as both benefit and detriment; on the one hand they take you on a fairly insane roller coaster ride of an album, and as a result on the other hand the songs aren’t as memorable as they could have been.
Everything from production to performance is ridiculous in the best kind of way. The production is crystal clear which is exactly what you want when concerned with this type of sound, and the performances are so flamboyant and in your face, if you’re a guitarist with any sort of ego or inferiority complex prepare to let the green eyed monster take hold. PATHFINDER includes everything you would want to hear from the style, and fans of this particular style should be prepared to hand over whatever money is necessary to own this release. It’s like getting a giant ice cream sundae with all the toppings, sprinkles, flakes, and then some. “Fifth Element” is jam packed with guitar and keyboard solo battles, “epic” orchestration, female vocals, male vocals, aggressive vocals, choir vocals, and of course more double kicking than you can shake a broadsword at.
When PATHFINDER put it all together they can attain heights that few bands in their genre could even hope to match. On “Fifth Element” they do this more than a few times, but there are some moments where they lose themselves, and ultimately hurt the release as a whole (some of the longer tracks totally overstay their welcome). You want to have a look at tracks such as “Ready to Die Between Stars”, “The Day When I Turn Back Time”, “Elemental Power” and “Ad Futurum Rei Memoriam” to see PATHFINDER at the top of their game, and these tracks in particular are the finest on offer on the “Fifth Element”. Whilst there are some moments that don’t quite work, or are a bit too much – and the album is a tad overlong – for the most part this is a quality release and a mandatory purchase for fans of Power Metal. If I’ve still yet to sell you; imagine strands of DNA taken from RHAPSODY OF FIRE, VISION DIVINE, DRAGONFORCE, PAGAN’S MIND, and LOST HORIZON, fuse these strands and the resulting creation would be PATHFINDER, and you need to hear them just to believe them.
(Online July 10, 2012)