When it comes to the Polish scene, many fans inevitably nourish a genuine respect towards certain names like Vader
and many other extremists. Because Crystal Viper
’s heavy metal strive is by no means match for the smashing artillery of their aggressive countrymen, the newcomers Pathfinder
decided to join their contingent with a debut album which was more or less of a “blind shot in the dark”, to use their own words. Hardly did the band expect this shot-to-nothing to cause such a huge impact on the admirers of the neoclassical power metal, not to mention an eventual prognosis of “the debut of the year”. Nevertheless, if there’s a candidate out there worthy enough in order to raise its claims over all others for the top position in such a chart, that’s “Beyond
the Space, Beyond
the Time”. Beginner’s luck? Not even close. Because it’s an absolute bliss for the ears, sincerely open, detailed and professionally realized. And
with a hell lot of Music.
The Magnificent Six
is yet to bear the burden of comparisons, but for good or bad, they are inevitable here. Pathfinder
may not be DragonForce
, but the guitarists Gunsen and Mania often tend to aim for the light speed space jams of the fury Herman Li. They’re not Blind Guardian
in order to pay tribute to their own favorite fantasy classics and shape them in flourishing, complex records. They’re not even the new Rhapsody
yet (despite they want to be), but after a year or two we might just as well witness the logical successors of the Italian symphonic masters in their Polish colleagues. The first studio album consists of every representative of the exemplary power metal style which features lately started to fade away under the endless pressure of the ephemeral bands. And
if you dislike melodies, coming straight from the heart, string-key attacks, majestic symphonies and orchestrations, or let’s say you’re just an anti-fan of the genre, do yourself a favor and don’t read this review further. The rest are certainly aware of what lays ahead – an imaginary flight away from any mortal bonds through a conceptual story situated in the band’s fabulous ideas, delivered via unique soundtrack following the example of the aforementioned grandeur formations.
If you think the works of Edgar Allan Poe
can’t cope well enough with Beethoven’s music, film score themes from movies such as “The X Files” and ideas from “The Time Machine
will show you how exactly wrong you are in about an hour or so. The story of the protagonist begins with slight “Pirates of the Caribbean”/ Irish elements from the introduction “Deep into that Darkness
Peering…” with a clear soprano voice rising over a background of sublime symphonies before the real deal “The Whisper
Rocks” rushes in with a firm unison between keyboard and guitars. Ever
since the very start it’s clear why the instrumentalists admire the master skills of Luca Turilli
, to whose style they often look up for an inspiration. The Moonlight
Sonata from the prelude gives way to “Pathway to the Moon
” with a tremendous work by the guitarist Matias Kupiainen (Stratovarius
). It’s namely there where the main character leaves his mortal body behind and the actual adventure finally sets on in his never-ending dreams, shaping the music around that sweet, steadfast neoclassical power metal for which we’re all ready to sell out both heart and soul. My personal champion, “All the Mornings of the World”, sets in with crystal clear melodies, moving lyrics and chorus, performed perfectly by Szymon Kostro in a way, reminding of the vocal lines from the last Dark Moor
album. A merry-go-round of endlessly alternating guitars and orchestrations mark the evil spirit of “The Demon
Awakens” and the striking ballad “Undiscovered Dreams” – a vocal duet with the soprano Agata, crowned with a sublime choral chorus and a violin, repeating the beautiful melody for one last time.
With the record advancing, the songs get longer and heavily charged, no matter if we’re speaking about “The Lord
of Wolves”, the progressive digressions in “Sons of Immortal Fire
” or the jewel “Stardust”, ferociously escalating with a lot of instrumental work, complex guitars and vocal interpretations based on a theme from Mark Snow’s infamous “extraterrestrial” soundtrack. “Dance of Flames
” offers one last chance to get a breath of fresh air before “To the Island
of Immortal Fire
” and the 10-minutes long homonymous composition in which we can hear the voice of Roberto Tiranti (Labyrinth
) and the cosmic keyboard of Bob Katsionis
). Just like the entire album, the song proudly bearing its name is being constantly diverted with long solos and outstanding vocals, chasing away every thought of monotony far away in advance. The time machine brings us back under the sound of the outro “What If…”, which links ideally to the introduction and embraces everything in a delicate, yet logical sequence – something more common for a high-class progressive album.
A flying debut start with an innovative level close to the freezing point, yet still worthy of the hopes and expectations of many people out there if they feel at least a bit open towards power metal. The uncompromising music in “Beyond
the Space, Beyond
the Time” doesn’t even leave a chance to wonder “what’s new here”, but we speak of a sub-genre, deprived of unused opportunities long time ago already. The scariest thing is that Pathfinder
seem to have really found something more than just fiction between the pages of H. G. Wells’ novella, for there’s simply no other explanation of how 70 minutes full of music pass as if in one instant.