Released: 2013, Pitch Black Records
The Cypriot band led by the Lepotos brothers return with 2013’s IV STIGMATA, a thematically unified album based on events in the Old Testament of The Bible. Following in the footsteps of 2011 IRA IMPERIUM, Arrayan Path offers up more power metal glory, featuring twelve galloping, and guitar centered songs carried by the impressive vocals of Nicholas Lepotos. Much like the previous album, the excellent musicianship shines through via a blend of and melodic riffs. Arrayan Path has become quite adept at varying tempos and creating space, content to let the music breath when necessary rather than filling all the gaps with notes and chugs.
The title track represents this more restrained, slower paced approach, incorporating dark, mid-paced passages to convey the story, interspersed with keyboards, bells, and heavy, hanging guitar chords. Likewise, in keeping with the lyrical themes the music includes eastern melodies coupled with elements of German and Italian power metal, the latter most visible in the vocals lines and a clear influence from Fabio Lione. While there are many fine moments on the album, perhaps none are finer than the four minutes and twenty seconds of “Pharaoh’s Wish”, a damn catchy tune that compactly showcases all of the bands finer moments, while incorporating a taste of Maiden tribute during the musical march prior to the last part of the track. The only throwaway track is album closer “Charming Paranoia”, resembling a film score or Pink Floyd tune more than power metal. On the positive side though, the band sounds fantastic and there is the intangible feeling that Arrayan Path is right on the cusp of being near the head of the table.
A few small weaknesses detract from making the album a masterpiece. First is that with IV STIGMATA being a long album, the songs do tend to bog down when the band decides to indulge progressive tendencies. The tunes that seem to resonate most are the ones under 4 and a half minutes. Unfortunately there are only four of these, so even while some of the epic and longer songs are good, they could have been downsized to great effect. The other minor gripe is that Arrayan Path has followed a well trod path in offering nothing original or distinguishing amongst the legions of power metal bands, admittedly a difficult task, but one that is basically mandatory to reach elite status in a crowded genre. Despite this, the committed and efficient execution of this style of power metal is as accomplished as any band out there. The songs themselves, fall only just shy of the genre leaders, but combined with powerful doubles bass drums, accomplished and flawlessly produced guitars, and the weapon that is Nicholas Lepotos soaring above the music, it is easy to envision Arrayan Path ascending to the pinnacle of the power metal peak in the near future. Recommended for fans of German and Italian power metal.