No so much different, but stronger
When Cyprus based outfit Arryan Path finally delivered the follow up to their long forgotten debut effort (2004’s fairly underwhelming Road To Macedonia) in Terra Incognita (2010), they not only proved that they had come a long way in their six years away, but also a force to be reckoned with within the global power metal scene. Keen to capitalise on their sophomore album’s success, the band have bolstered their line-up to six full-time members (comprising vocalist Nicholas Leptos, new guitarist Alexis Kleidaras, guitarist Socrates Leptos, Prodigal Earth bassist Paris Lambrou, keyboardist George Kallis and drummer Stefan Dittrich), made some slight adjustments to their name to avoid any confusion the band had endured over the last couple of years (Arryan Path has now given an extra a to become Arrayan Path) and returned with their eagerly anticipated third full-length effort Ira Imperium.
For the most part, Ira Imperium doesn’t stray too far from the sound and direction that was offered up on Terra Incognita. While some may find the similarities between the two albums a little disappointing, there are enough subtle changes to prove that the band have made some progression in the twelve months between releases.
The opening track Dies Irae gets the album off in a dramatic fashion, with the orchestral keyboards giving the start of the song a huge epic feel, before the guitarists take over with some great tandem riffing that shows a little more aggression than most of their output of the past, without forsaking any of their familiar melodic edge. Nicholas Leptos adds some clever middle-eastern influences into his vocal delivery to give the song a little more colour, while the additional spoken word samples that follow the solo only adds to the epic feel of the track as a whole.
The follow-up tracks Gnosis of Prometheus, Amenophis, and 77 Days ‘Til Doomsday are strong tracks with heavier guitar work and strong chorus melodies, while the addition of guest vocalist Tony Martin (ex-Black Sabbath/The Cage) on the title track Ira Imperium (The Damned) is an obvious highlight within the first half of the album.
Kiss of Kali, I Sail Across the Seven Seas and Emir of the Faithful are noteworthy for their inclusion of traditional melodies (synthesized sitars and percussion) within the band’s familiar power metal framework, while Katherine Of Aragon (Featuring Natalie Kyprianou on backing vocals) is the only track where the doom influences of the band’s past make an appearance this time around.
Finishing up the album is The Fall of Mardonius, where the band seem to throw a bit of everything into the mix to create a powerful epic that stands as one of their most ambitious efforts to date, while the closer, The Poet Aftermath, follows on in the complete opposite direction, with only keyboard orchestration and Nicholas Leptos powerful vocals carrying the song. Both are definite album highlights.
Overall, Ira Imperium isn’t so much a departure from where the band last left things on Terra Incognita, but a more consistent, well thought out and executed version of the same thing. The song writing is stronger, and the musicianship within the group has definitely improved with the expanded line-up and, to these ears, that’s enough to give Ira Imperium the edge over anything Arrayan Path has offered in the past.
(Pitch Black Records)