Released: 2010, Pitch Black Records
Arryan* Path were formed in the US by Nicholas Leptos and Clement Fung, but Leptos moved back to Cyprus and enlisted the help of local musicians to help continue what has become a decent side project to his main band Prodigal Earth. TERRA INCOGNITA is the band’s second full-length album, and their first in six years since 2004’s ROAD TO MACEDONIA.
Arryan Path play standard melodic power metal with some added folkish influences which serves to distinguish their somewhat typical European sound, at least on a superficial level. These ‘folkish influences’ take the form of vaguely Mediterranean/Arab/Indian/North African scales in their riffs and solos, and on the title track ‘Terra Incognita’, an exotic sounding Indian pipe incorporated into the main riff, that brings to mind snake dancers and fakirs for some reason. Other than that, the brand of power metal is very much in the vein of mid-paced Helloween and Gamma Ray, and also reminds me quite a bit of Firewind (especially vocalist Nicholas Leptos, who is quite reminiscent of Firewind’s Apollo).
The album is enjoyable in parts, and that is its main downfall – it is too inconsistent in sound, direction and songwriting to be anything more than decent. There are some good rocking power metal moments on TERRA INCOGNITA (‘The Mind’ is especially good, and ‘Minas Tirith’ is IMO the best track on the album) and some great singalong chorus parts (‘The Blood Remains On The Believer’), and when they choose to slow it down, this is when the band really excels. Downbeat, plodding, almost doom-ish riffs such as on ‘Ishtar’ and on the first track ‘Cassiopeia’ are a welcome added dynamic, and show a certain amount of willingness to experiment. The same may be said of the ‘Arab/Indian’ instrumentation, although I feel they do fall into the Nile-syndrome trap of thinking that using an exotic sounding instrument in a semi-exotic sounding scale can be a replacement for good, tight, focused songwriting and proper incorporation into the metal context. Singer Leptos has a good voice: decent range (although he rarely pushes himself), a good ear for melody, nice phrasing and articulation and he possesses a very accessible timbre that is almost soothing and relaxing at times.
However, there are many flaws with the album. The most irritating is the over-use of fadeouts to end a song. I’ve never been a fan of fadeouts in general as I believe they show a lack of imagination on the part of the band to write a decent ending. But Arryan Path take the repeating-chorus fadeout to ridiculous lengths – for example, on the first song ‘Cassiopeia’, the song starts to dip in volume 45 seconds from the actual end, ‘Molon Lave’, 50 FUCKING seconds from the end, ‘The Blood Remains on the Believer’ 36 seconds. That’s just padding, filler, and is inexcusable.
Speaking of filler, songs like ‘Molon Lave’ are so simplistic and repetitive in structure that they might as well not be there. ‘Molon Lave’ repeats the chorus about 750 million times in the song, and it’s not a particularly great chorus either. ‘Terra Incognita’, the title track, suffers from the repetitive syndrome to a lesser extent, but is terminally ill on the good chorus checklist. It’s an awful chorus, catchy in an irritating want-to-poke-your-ears-out-with-a-rusty-needle way: “Unknown and regretful/unknown and regretful/unknown and regretful in our my-ai-ind” repeated 400 million times. Also, that Indian pipe is bloody annoying, and I don’t care if that sounds un-PC. Just because something is ‘traditional’ and ‘cultural’ doesn’t mean it’s good. Definitely the two worst songs on TERRA INCOGNITA, and should never have made it into the final product.
Arryan Path have to be given some credit for keeping the faith, and they are on the way to becoming a good mid-tier level power metal band with their own sound. However, some problems in execution and songwriting let them down – let’s hope that the next album sees some improvement.
*Note: 'Arryan' is a type of wild flower, and not to be confused with 'Aryan' or any other right-wing connotations. This band is about as far away from Nazism as possible, and I doubt any skinhead neo-nazis are about to listen to such "flowery" music any time soon. Hitler nicked the term 'Aryan' from the Indians/Iranians anyway, just like he nicked the swastika from Buddhism. Look it up.