Reviewed: February, 2018
Released: 2018, self-released
Reviewer: Kieron Hayes
A lot of bands these days are doing it old-school, their music a throw-back to whatever is seen as the golden age of their music style of choice. Some do it better than others, some feel more genuine, some just seem to get it.
Owl Maker (named after a Plains Indian mythological being, Hihankara)seem to be one of those bands. You can hear the similarities to other bands loud and clear: Black Sabbath, Candlemass, Slough Feg, Pentagram, et al. It’s classic metal in every sense. But while Owl Maker might be inspired by those bands, they aren’t blindly imitating them.
What I really love on this one is the variety. There are 6 songs on Paths of the Slain, and each one does its own thing, has its own distinct character. “Freya’s Chariot” is a classic bit of epic battle metal that would do Cirith Ungol proud. “Lady Stoneheart” works in the same kind of vein but with a delightful horror vibe to it, and done primarily just with its guitar work. Like Mercyful Fate’s classic material, it manages to really evoke that creepy feeling without the need for extra effects. All very fitting for a song about a dark character from A Song of Ice and Fire.
“Witches” takes things in a more fearsome, almost thrashy direction. “Mashiara” feels like a traditional doom lament, mournful yet driven. “99” and “Ride With Aileen” are both more hard rocking tracks, “99” giving us a riff straight out of Blue Oyster Cult’s playbook, and “Ride With Aileen” is such a toe-tapping funky number it’s irresistible, the blues rock roots of the earliest heavy metal clear to hear.
The drumming is a particular highlight, major props to Chris Anderson for his outstanding work. It’s not often the percussion of an album catches my attention like it does here, it’s a real driving force alongside the equally stellar guitar work. There’s so much character to these songs, and his drumming is definitely a big part of that, serving to instantly announce who they are, then keep them flowing with brilliantly dynamic work.
The whole thing is like a love letter to metal’s roots. There are bits of traditional metal, doom, hard rock, harking to a time when the divisions between them all weren’t so clear cut. Every song has its own style, but the album as a whole sound perfectly unified. It’s all got that unashamed cheesiness of early heavy metal music, incorporating fantasy and occult elements with ease.
There’s great variety to be had here: faster songs, slower songs, epic, mournful, creepy and swaggering, it’s all there on show, acknowledging and embracing all of metal’s influences. If you’re a fan of classic bands new and old like Sloug Feg, Pagan Altar or Brocas Helm, I highly recommend checking this out.
No video available.
1. Ride With Aileen
3. Freya’s Chariot
6. Lady Stoneheart
Jessie May – Bass
Chris Anderson – Drums
Simon Tuozzoli – Guitar/vocals