ARRAYAN PATH, known as ARRYAN PATH until mid 2011, is an Epic Power Metal band from Cyprus. Although the band was formed in the United States, co-founder Nicholas Leptos took the band name with him when he moved back to Cyprus and continued activities on the other side of the world. Although this, “Ira Imperium”, is the band's third full-length album, this is the first that I've ever listened to ARRAYAN PATH.
Looking at the Egyptian-styled artwork, one might expect some form of Mediterranean or Macedonian-influenced Power Metal, which is misleading. Some of the lyrical themes are borrowed from Mediterranean folk lore and mythology, and that's pretty much where it ends. ARRAYAN PATH may have some misleading artwork, as the band plays Neoclassical, Malmsteen-inspired Power Metal, but the music contained within is extremely convincing.
Unlike Malmsteen clones, this album is not just a 40-minute shred fest. The band has some solid songwriting skills and they capitalize on this, writing memorable and catchy tunes, while keeping an air of originality. ARRAYAN PATH displays their influences on their sleeves, but that's not a bad thing. The base of the music is Neoclassical Power Metal a la MAGIC KINGDOM and KENZINER, but hints of other genres creep in such as the Thrash feel in several riffs and the Doom Metal plodding and downtrodden tempo on “Katherine Of Aragon”.
The guitarists are more than competent. The leads are solid and never sound out of place or forced. I keep making Malmsteen references here, but there is a huge similarity with the tempo and speed of the soloing. Several solos utilize a Mediterranean scale, adding a bit of the Egyptian feel, but in a subtle way. The Mediterranean feel mixed with metal riffs sounds phenomenal: I only wish they brought it out a little more. The rhythm guitars, for the most part, chug along like FIREWIND or a chunkier IRON MAIDEN without the galloping syncopation. The drums are pretty standard, but are kept a little more interesting by changing patterns on the toms and cymbals rather often.
The vocals are a dead ringer for any number of Malmsteen's past singers. There is definitely that 1980's vibe with them. He actually sounds pretty close to Tim “Ripper” Owens' clean vocals on his work with ICED EARTH. Oh, that's right, Ripper did vocals for Malmsteen too! The vocals are very well executed, except for a few high notes that didn't fit well and sound very forced. A few group vocals and choral sections add an extra dimension to vocals and make this album a little easier to swallow in single sittings.
Overall, “Ira Imperium” sounds like any number of Power Metal bands: KENZIER, MAGIC KINGDOM, IRON MASK, etc. Perfect production and excellent musicianship can only get you so far, though. The Neoclassical styling present is a turn off for a lot of “Traditional” Metal fans and the music isn't heavy enough for the Thrash fans to get a huge kick out of this. As you may or may not know, the bands that ARRAYAN PATH seem to be emulating are not exactly huge sellers in the metal market. ARRAYAN PATH may have had some solid songs on their previous albums, but as this is my first time listening to them, I can't say whether or not they have improved. I can only say that they have released an enjoyable Neoclassical Power Metal album that most Malmsteen worshiping, guitar aficionados will eat up. Unfortunately with the over saturation of Power Metal bands in recent years, ARRAYAN PATH does not stand far enough away from the pack to gain more of an audience.
“Ira Imperium” is an enjoyable Neoclassical Power Metal album from start to finish. That's saying a lot because the album is over an hour long. With all of the Egyptian artwork, I was expecting more Mediterranean tones and the touches that ARRAYAN PATH does put in their music sound phenomenal, but alas it was not to be. Hopefully future releases will show ARRAYAN PATH bringing those elements to front even more.
This album is recommended to Neoclassical Power Metal fans, and especially fans of Malmsteen's work. I can't, in good faith, recommend this to fans of other genres because it is so far rooted in Neoclassical styling. They may have other influences here and there, but not to the front enough to break from the Neoclassical mold. If you dig the bands mentioned in this review, check it out. Otherwise, this is not for you.
Check the band's ReverbNation and Facebook accounts to check out some tracks!
(Online July 28, 2012)