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Arryan Path: Terra Incognita

With the Arryan in this band's name being that of a flower, you could be forgiven for thinking that their second album Terra Incognita would be full of gentle summery melodies. However with the opening blasts of "Cassiopeia" it is immediately clear that the journey that leads to the Arryan Path will be an altogether more intense and riff laden one.

As the years go by there are fewer and fewer countries that remain untouched by the power of metal and with Arryan Path hailing from Cyprus, the list has just become even shorter. Releasing their debut album Road To Macedonia, which was a collection of reworked demos and newly written tracks, back in 2005 I have to say that I had begun to think that a follow up disc was never going to see the light of day, however Terra Incognita, which means unknown land, not only proves me wrong, but it has done so in pretty phenomenal style. The lynchpins of the band are the brothers Nicholas and Socrates Leptos who handle vocals and guitars respectively and Nicholas also composed all but one of the songs on the album. The best description for the style of music he has created is Epic Power Metal, where big dense guitars not only drive every song with molten, heavy riffs, but where subtlety and intricacy are to be found within the uncompromising yet melodic attack. Add to that the remarkably clean, strong vocal tones that Nicholas possesses and the concoction becomes an amazingly strong blend of hard hitting power metal with some wonderful under currents of traditional Cypriot/Greek instrumentation that is never tied down by stereotypes. Take for example the grandiose "Elegy" with its controlled classical tones that range from strings to timpani used as a backing to a sharp riff and a tremendously expressive vocal. The chorus has a theatrical feel without ever sounding hokey and really that's the key to why Terra Incognita is so successful. While the themes and textures used across the nine tracks (ten if you buy the physical CD) are grand and stretching, they are delivered with such conviction that you are completely engulfed by their believability.

Opening the disc with the nine minute epic that is "Cassiopeia" which begins with gentle string plucking, a choir, brass and percussion, before allowing brooding guitars and bass (supplied by Vagelis Maranis who also contributes guitars across the album and vocals on this track) to turn everything on its head. Then as you set yourself for the usual snarls, growls and vocal spits that seem to accompany almost every genre these days, Nicholas' sharp melodic tones signal the quickening of the track's tempo and an urgent, pulsating voyage has begun. It's a bold signal of intent, however with tracks as classy and varied as the full on guitar and keyboard assault of "Open Season" (which features the albums only "growl" and it is for only one word!), the far more considered Middle Eastern flavours of the spiralling and atmospheric "Ishtar", or the stinging melodic guitars of bonus track "The Mind" which illustrates that Arryan Path can also be equally effective as a straight ahead metal band, it is a challenge they meet head on and leave from victorious.

The rest of the line up for the disc is made up of Stefan Ditrich on drums and George Kallis on keyboards and while they are excellent throughout the album, theirs and Socrates performance on the stirring battle cry of "Minas Tirith" is simply stunning. Arryan Path really have put together a scintillating mix of light and shade with Terra Incognita and one which will definitely be featuring in my end of year best of lists.

Track Listing
01. Cassiopeia
02. Molon Lave
03. Terra Incognita
04. Open Season
05. Ishtar
06. The Blood Remains on the Believer
07. Elegy
08. Angel With no Destination
09. Minas Tirith
10. The Mind

Added: June 24th 2010
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Band's MySpace Page
Hits: 1654
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Arryan Path: Terra Incognita
Posted by Richard Wheelhouse, SoT Staff Writer on 2010-06-24 20:08:34
My Score:

Terra Incognita is one of those metal albums that begin with a brief "classical" style figure featuring choral drama and breathy woodwind. It is an affectation that is all too common these days; and here, as with many occasions, it doesn't even remotely fit with the bulk of the music that follows.

That admittedly minor irritant aside, Arryan Path deliver a perfectly competent first album with apparent ease. It isn't entrancing and it wont change your life, but it is certainly worth a listen for fans of dramatic and technical metal.

The band don't masquerade as anything they aren't, they sing about battles between heroes and villains, distant lands, and a certain book by J. R. R. Tolkien [and no, it isn't the Hobbit]. To their credit however, they squeeze far more musical variation out of these themes than might be expected, included some healthy doses of middle eastern melodies, especially on the title track and "Ishtar", the latter of which is a particularly strong piece. This approach gives the album a distinctive flavour in market crowded with more northern European influences.

Terra Incognita is also much stronger for the band's sense of restraint. Whilst they are fully capable of stretching a piece into different movements, they are never overindulgent and don't keep songs going for the sake of it. "Open Season", which comes in at under 4 minutes, is a perfect example of a simple up-tempo track that could have been spoiled by adding extra sections upon extra sections.

It's fair to say that Terra Incognita isn't an album that will stand up as a giant that transcends all music, but it is certainly good enough to make you sit up and listen, and is a very promising debut.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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