A new record label (Frontiers), a new guitar player (Alessio Velliscig ), and a new CD (Sunless Skies )-nothing is slowing down Italian prog-metal juggernaut Pathosray these days in their quest to rise to the top of the genre. Despite all the activity of late, the band have managed to churn out an absolute winner here with Sunless Skies. Fear not metal faithful, just because the band is now on melodic rock label Frontiers as opposed to Sensory, things have not changed one bit. Their brand of melodic but heavy hitting progressive metal laden with hooks and instrumental virtuosity is in fine form here, showing a band that is firing on all cylinders and riding a creative explosion.
On first pass through Sunless Skies, the amazing thing you'll first realize is just how catchy and memorable these ten tracks are. These days, there are only a handful of acts in this genre who grab you from the outset, Symphony X, Vanden Plas, Dream Theater, Circus Maximus, Tomorrow's Eve, Seventh Wonder, and perhaps Mercenary come to mind first, but Pathosray easily now top or reside near the summit of that short list. Tunes such as "Crown of Thorns", "Behind the Shadows", and the soaring "Aurora" are so instantly memorable and engaging that you almost want to hit the replay button again before song number four even plays. Filled with stunning vocals from Marco Sandron, and plenty of crunchy guitar riffs, symphonic keyboards, and tricky rhythms, these three tunes are quite a trio of excellent songs to kick off the CD. "Quantic Enigma" is a darker, heavier metal number, with some possible influence from Pain of Salvation (and featuring some killer keyboard & guitar solos from Gianpaolo Rinaldi & Alessio Velliscig), and this one is followed by the lush, emotional ballad "In Your Arms".
"Sons of Sunless Skies" is raging, Dream Theater/Symphony X styled progressive metal, but with Pathosray's unique melodic stamp, and features some nice crunchy riffs and stabbing synth lines. The epic sounds of "The Coldest Lullaby" are quite addicting, as the band mix in metal bombast with soaring guest female vocals and symphonic elements, while "Poltergiest" is easily the heaviest tune on the CD, a real barnburner with some power metal elements (especially in the drum department), but overall a great performance from the entire band, especially Sandron, whose vocals are just outstanding.
It's hard to say whether Sunless Skies has topped the band's stellar debut, but I will say at this early juncture that if they didn't, they've come damn close. Give me a few months and I'll offer you a better assessment after I've had another dozen go 'rounds with this one, which is easily one of 2009's strongest progressive metal releases. If this band is not on the tip of every lover of this genre's tongue in 2 years there's something really wrong with the world.
- Crown Of Thorns
- Behind The Shadows
- Quantic Enigma
- In Your Arms
- Sons Of The Sunless Sky
- The Coldest Lullaby
- Perpetual Eclipse (Interludium)
- For The Last Time (2009 version)