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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Pathosray

Pathosray

Review by Gary Hill

I definitely debated over whether to lump this one into progressive rock or metal. In the end I went with metal, but it was a close call. This band really does sit pretty well across both genres. Their sound is a lot of the times a lot like Dream Theater, but you might also hear Queensryche, Fates Warning and more pure metal bands in the mix. They are hard rocking and extremely talented. This is the Italian outfit’s debut disc and the only way it seems to show is that the music tends to all sound a bit alike after a time. The truth be told, though, when the sounds are this strong a bit of sameness is OK.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Free of Doubt
This classically tinged keyboard solo might convince listeners that they’ve put on a prog album rather than a metal one. It’s a short instrumental allowing that misconception to quickly be laid to rest.
Faded Crystals
The keyboards from the previous introductory piece start this, but the group quickly pound out into metallic fury. Keyboards still create waves of sound amidst this aural soup on the introduction, but the tone is metal. They turn in a full metal approach for a while but then it shifts out into almost Dream Theater like motif with keyboards painting melody lines in the mix. I hear quite a bit of old Rush in this mix, too – albeit turbo charged with super heavy metal. They drop it out after the extended introduction to a sparser prog metal concept. It works upward from there and when the vocals take on a more screamed approach on the later points it feels a lot like Dream Theater. I hear some Queensryche on the composition of this track at points, too. They drop it back later to an epic metal sort of dramatic break. This changes around quite a bit with varying segments holding power for a time before they are replaced with either a new incarnation of their theme or a full new segment – or in some cases a return of an early progression. When they drop it way back for the evocative ballad section it’s quite powerful. Eventually they work this back up and lead it out into a killer instrumental section that really calls to mind Dream Theater quite a bit. This eventually gives way to a reprise of the early DTish motifs.
Lines to Follow
This pounds out with a frantic metallic jam that has just a tinge of Crimsonian weirdness on it. They run through like this for a short time and then drop it back to a mellower, but no less frantic segment. The two modes alternate for a time. It moves out into the song proper which is more metallic. This really feels a lot like epic prog metal here. It’s a soaring piece of music that feels at once both angry and majestic. After this section they turn it more towards progressive rock for a few short changing modes. They shift the corner to more pure metal after a time. It’s incredibly heavy and furious. When they return to the verse section it’s tempered a bit by additional keyboards. This same general grouping of themes eventually ends the piece.
Scent of Snow
In a startling contrast to the fury of the last number, this one comes in pretty and sedate. After this extended introduction, though, they prove that they’ve lost none of their frantic power or musical anger as they run through a powerhouse crunchfest. They drop it down later, though, for the first vocals. This section is a sparse arrangement with frantic bass runs laying down the backdrop for more progressive rock (albeit neo-prog) elements as the main song structure. This works out after a time into the more metallic and hard edged DT-like textures for an instrumental section, but this mellower section returns for the next vocals. This is actually a fairly dynamic cut and turns very much to mainstream prog rock for a while. The fast paced jam that takes it after that part, though, is very much like DT – with a slicing, throbbing crunch fest at first and then a keyboard solo added over the top. This thing pounds out from here. They just keep reinventing it throughout an extended instrumental section. A reprise of the central song structure ends the piece. It’s amazing how much they pack into this song considering that it weighs in at a little under seven minutes.
Sorrow Never Dies
This has a lot more melodic, progressive rock styled arrangement. A lot of the track’s power and promise grows from the vocal arrangement and the keyboards. They pump it up for metallic motifs on the chorus and the whole approach there is very much in keeping with progressive metal. This cut alternates quite a bit across the musical scale of prog and metal. It features sections that fit well within each of those genres. The keyboards and the vocals are really the star players on the majority of this number.
The Sad Game
With this title one would expect a melancholy ballad. That’s not what we get here at all. Instead this comes in as a frantic pounder with DT-like sounds. They drop it back down as if to go to ballad mode for a time, but then fire back out. This moves through a number of variations alternating between fiery metallic chaos and melodic proggy crunch. At a little over nine minutes this is the longest track on the CD. When it shifts out for the vocals it becomes all the more metallic, but yet the actual delivery of the lyrics is in a mode that fits James LaBrie to a “tee.”  The metal gloves really come out later in a cacophonous pounding. Keyboards eventually end this, though.
In Salicis Umbra
Here is another exceptionally short piece. It’s a piano and vocal based ballad that’s quite pretty. This is both beautiful and powerful.
Strange Kind of Energy
This is another potent piece, but some of this music is starting to feel the same. I get both a Royal Hunt and Dream Theater vibe off of this. We get a very cool keyboard solo on this one that calls to mind vintage prog rock. There is also a section that reminds me of the music from James Bond movies here. As is common on this CD the track really covers a lot of varying musical modes.
Emerald City
This jam is in some ways one of the most progressive rock oriented tracks here. It’s definitely got more DT going on in it, but then again we get some extremely heavy music here, as well. There are also some more traditional metal vocals on this. It’s another study in contrasts, like much of the disc. It’s a strong track, but another that closely resembles too much of the other music here.
 
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