posted on 2/2010 By:
**Power Metal Alert**
First and foremost, let's quickly address the sizable albino elephant in the room...
There apparently exists an "Arryan" (obviously white) flower on our planet, so we're ostensibly supposed to imagine a path flanked by fields of budding white blossoms when thinking about Arryan Path. Not exactly the kind of imagery ideally suited for a heavy metal band in the first place, so I question the need to forage forward with such a questionable moniker. I will say that if Greek Cypriote and vocalist/brainchild Nicholas Leptos ever expects to see this project get any true national recognition, he should think very seriously about a simple name change. And please, for the sake of us all, don't let there be some sort of equally unique flower in some rare botany tome called the "Heetler Rose."
Onward and upward...
I picture metal enthusiasts from Mediterranean island nations such as Cyprus being happily detached from the burdens of a scene that always seems to obsess over "pushing the genre forward." Perhaps it's not possible to make such a statement without coming across as a complete bastard, but I actually mean that as a compliment. One of my true life-goals is to spend at least a week amongst metal freaks who proudly sport an ancient look that includes denims adorned with bands such as Manilla Road, Cirith Ungol, Omen, Witchfynde, and Sortilége not because it's "hip and retro," but because their particular scene is enthusiastically frozen in time. It's of course very likely that Cyprus is every bit as consumed as the U.S. with pushing the heavy metal envelope, but it's bands and albums such as this that help paint the "Classic Headbanger's Eden" in my odd little mind.
Originally formed in the U.S. but quickly re-established on the Greek side of the fence in Cyprus, Nicholas Leptos' Arryan Path play a brand of epic heavy metal that's as far from anything I'd consider to be "modern sounding" as you could possibly get. Their closest active sibling would undoubtedly be Rhapsody with a pinch of Helloween for added spice. The former is definitely the closest connection, however, not only because of the amazing vocal similarities between Leptos and Fabio Lione, but also because both bands share a penchant for adding theatrical flare abundant with grandiose choruses, orchestration and added eccentric instrumentation. The formula delivered by these Cypriots is toned down by a convincing measure (likely because of money and studio constraints), but the end result is remarkably close to the "feel" also conveyed by their Italian counterparts.
Following a brief intro that brings to mind a scene featuring Gladiator Russ Crowe slowly sweeping wheat stalks with his fingertips, the 9-minute "Cassiopeia" gallops onto the stage and sets the formula for the rest of the album in steel: a sweeping, mostly mid-paced gait edged and sent to soaring heights with a ridiculously catchy chorus. From this point forward Terra Incognita maintains this course in spades, with tunes like the aggressive "Open Season," "Angel With No Destination" and (bonus track) "The Mind" upping the Helloween ante by adding a bit more speed. The title track and smoky "Ishtar" illuminate the band's Greek roots by seamlessly folding in Arabic instrumentation to their snaky stride, with "Terra Incognita" striking particularly hard because of a fantastic fist-pumping groove matched alongside Nicholas' repeated shouts of "let me hear you roar!" But as strong as these cuts stand on their own, the true strength of the record hits in the bottom half where the epic elements flash like a phoenix from a fiery grave -- the fantastic "The Blood Remains On the Believer" (incredibly catchy), for example, and the towering choruses that lift "Elegy" and the Tolkien inspired "Minas Tirith" to crowning heights.
Really the only weakness I found with Terra Incognita after spending a great deal of time with it the past two weeks is that some of the tunes rely too heavily on the contagious refrains. The otherwise excellent "Molon Lava," for example, and the self-titled track as well. But this relatively small gripe is honestly eclipsed by how hard all these tunes stick to the brain.
It may seem like overkill to some of our readers for me to spend so much effort dissecting an unknown album from a contestably monikered band in a genre seemingly scorned by many on this side of the pond, but I stand by the strength and ascending power behind Terra Incognita. If you're a fan of Rhapsody-styled epic power metal and have been itching for something new and inspiring, this just might be your ticket. I just hope Nicholas eventually changes the name so I don't have to spend any more time explaining his motives every time I try to recommend them to power metal fans.
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