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Pathfinder’s first album, “Beyond the Space, Beyond the Time” had me absolutely floored. I’d not stumbled upon an album (let alone a debut album), that packed in so much into such a small CD package since my first witness to Ayreon’s “Into the Electric Castle”. It was easily one of the most amazing records I’d ever heard, something that I feared would be so very hard to overtake with the next batch of songs. I mean, it’s great to get off on the best foot possible when entering the metal/musical world, but you can only imagine how much of a bitch it would be to keep those inspirational flames up and running in order to placate the fans’ interests that much more.
Despite what I’d originally hoped for, I am also under the impression that replicating the same sound note for note may not be the best way to continue on with your musical tradition, and a slight bit of differentiation would make things better in the end. And that seems to be the case here. That same raging tempoed power/speed metal approach that causes so many goosebumps to appear, that mid-era Blind Guardian meets Rhapsody on two cans of Red Bull sound, is in full brunt force here, but things seem a little more tempered than before; just as tasty and fantastic, but at a slight more leisurely pace than “BtS, BtT” (for short). You wouldn’t know it upon first listen, but longer, deeper listens show a Pathfinder attempting a sort of ordo ad chao treatment to their already blistering movements. Despite that, though, this is still a stellar disc that, once again, rips through the limits of traditional power metal with the intent to truly astonish, with each track containing more than simply one emotional movement apiece; things can start excitedly, then become angry, then sad, then glorious once again. Simply put, if you’re big on this kind of thing, or even a casual fan of these guys’ first album, this will whet your whistle just as equally.
What works, once again, is that the orchestral/keyboard ends are still the main musical theme, and said moments shove so much majesty at you that you can’t help but pump a gauntleted fist right to the heavens in metallic defiance (…too much? Oh well!). That being said, the guitars and bass still don’t take a backseat to nobody, and the noodly, tasteful solos and leads, clearly taking a class or two in The Luca Turilli School of No-BS neo-classical shredding, still exude more feeling than a full album’s worth of Dragonforce masturbatory antics, again taking those silly gits' game up a notch or two with the rhythm work/section maintaining the tightness and focus of true masters of their craft. But just when you think you’ve got these guys pegged, the pounding of new drummer Kacper Stachowiak, in between the traditional double-bassing, storms at the listener with fiery, extreme metal blast beats (blast beats? In power metal? Well, OK!) and the versatility of vocalist Szymon Kostro stretches the horizons of the front man singing spectrum like a rubber band in a very natural way, from falsetto highs to emotional lows, though I’ll admit those minute moments of Dani Filth-like screeching don’t seem to fit very well, even during the heavier parts. But that’s a very minor complaint, though, for his vocal workings still fit the group very well in the end, as does the guest appearance of Sunrise’s Konstantin Naumenko, and the full brunt of the album’s mesmerizing likes of “Ready to Die Between the Stars”, “Chronokinesis” and “March to the Darkest Horizon” still illuminate like an entire galaxy of burning stars.
At the end of the day, Pathfinder continue to be one of the best newcomers in the semi-cluttered European metal scene, continuing down a path of their own paving (and finding) with the reckless abandon we’ve come to expect and appreciate. Truly not for the faint of heart or the more perfunctory of us out there, those of us who really get off on these kinds of things can expect to be lost in time throughout “Fifth Element”‘s duration, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Pathfinder stormed into the power metal scene in 2010 with the release of "Beyond the Space, Beyond the Time", an album which turned the heads of power metal fans everywhere. These new guys out of Poland certainly had great potential and probably wouldn't be one of those bands who released an album, then seemed to disappear after that. "Beyond the Space, Beyond the Time" left many wondering what else these guys could accomplish in the future.
Cue "Fifth Element", an album based on metal being, you guessed it, the fifth element.
It is very difficult to give an album a perfect ten. There always seems to be something that you feel could be better, even if it's the most minuscule of things. After listening to "Fifth Element" religiously, it occurred to me that I had indeed found the perfect album.
It opens like many power metal albums do; with a thunderous orchestral and spoken-word intro track. Then it kicks into the highest of gears with the epic, powerful and fantastic title track, featuring, as almost every song does on this album, screams that reach the cosmos, booming vocal harmonies, speedy guitar solos and blast beats, masterful orchestral arrangements and keyboard playing, and even a few harsh vocals. Arkadiusz Ruth even threw in a couple f-bombs while writing this masterpiece. Why not, eh?
The album continues at this fast, relentless pace until "Yin Yang", which is a slower song serving as a bit of a breather from the ride through the stars the listener has already been taken on.
Part two of the cosmic ride begins with "Elemental Power", the chorus of which describes the doings of the four, sorry, FIVE elements, and ends with one final chanting of the title track's chorus, which also makes an appearance as the second and final chorus and verse of "Ready to Die Between Stars". The listener has returned to Earth after a thrilling and unforgettable ride through the space-time continuum.
There are two bonus tracks on this album as well, both covers. "Spartacus and the Sun Beneath the Sea", theme of the cartoon that bears the same name, is featured more commonly on the album. A cover of Cher's "If I Could Turn Back Time" appears on the Japanese edition. Pathfinder have really made these songs their own, even adding a neat little closing in "If I Could Turn Back Time".
"Fifth Element" proves that "Beyond the Space, Beyond the Time" was no fluke. These Polish gentlemen are for real, and they will be around for years to come. They put all their passion and work into their music, and to say it shows would be an understatement. You can't just hear the passion, you can feel it. Any band that can do that will surely be sticking around for more than a few years.
Every now and then a band comes along who absolutely rekindle my love for the Power Metal genre. Pathfinder are one such band, and their debut album “Beyond the Space, Beyond the Time” was everything I needed to fall in love with Power Metal all over again. What I always loved about the European Power Metal scene was just how pompous and over the top bands such as Rhapsody of Fire and Thy Majestie were like, and Pathfinder played the style with that same sense of ridiculous pomposity.
For the uninitiated Pathfinder are basically the ADHD lovechild of Dragonforce and Rhapsody of Fire. They’re as over the top and as saccharine as they come, but that’s exactly what I look to them for. Which is why there are a few slight niggles this time around (I’ll come to that shortly). Fortunately this isn’t too far away from what made the debut such an enamouring release, and Pathfinde progress their sound just enough so that this isn’t a pure rehash of “Beyond the Space, Beyond the Time”.
“Fifth Element” isn’t a Sci-Fi film featuring Bruce Willis (sorry, couldn’t help myself). What it is, is over an hour of no-holds-barred unrestrained Symphonic Power Metal. This time around Pathfinder have included a lot more in the way of extreme vocals, and whilst they don’t take the centre stage that often; they do annoy me as they’re totally unnecessary and uncalled for. Szymon Kostro is an ace singer, and should be left to do as he does best which is sing cleanly. Another difference from the debut is that the arrangements don’t feel as fully well realized on the “Fifth Element”. This works as both benefit and detriment; on the one hand they take you on a fairly insane roller coaster ride of an album, and as a result on the other hand the songs aren’t as memorable as they could have been.
Everything from production to performance is ridiculous in the best kind of way. The production is crystal clear which is exactly what you want when concerned with this type of sound, and the performances are so flamboyant and in your face, if you’re a guitarist with any sort of ego or inferiority complex prepare to let the green eyed monster take hold. Pathfinder includes everything you would want to hear from the style, and fans of this particular style should be prepared to hand over whatever money is necessary to own this release. It’s like getting a giant ice cream sundae with all the toppings, sprinkles, flakes, and then some. “Fifth Element” is jam packed with guitar and keyboard solo battles, “epic” orchestration, female vocals, male vocals, aggressive vocals, choir vocals, and of course more double kicking than you can shake a broadsword at.
When Pathfinder put it all together they can attain heights that few bands in their genre could even hope to match. On “Fifth Element” they do this more than a few times, but there are some moments where they lose themselves, and ultimately hurt the release as a whole (some of the longer tracks totally overstay their welcome). You want to have a look at tracks such as “Ready to Die Between Stars”, “The Day When I Turn Back Time”, “Elemental Power” and “Ad Futurum Rei Memoriam” to see Pathfinder at the top of their game, and these tracks in particular are the finest on offer on the “Fifth Element”. Whilst there are some moments that don’t quite work, or are a bit too much – and the album is a tad overlong – for the most part this is a quality release and a mandatory purchase for fans of Power Metal. If I’ve still yet to sell you; imagine strands of DNA taken from Rhapsody of Fire, Vision Divine, Dragonforce, Pagan's Mind, and Lost Horizon, fuse these strands and the resulting creation would be Pathfinder, and you need to hear them just to believe them.
Originally written for http://www.metal-observer.com
After making power metal fans' mouths water from their fantastic solos, singing, and upbeat sound, Pathfinder have returned to solidify their place in the power metal ranks even further. Much like their previous album, Pathfinder aim for a level of grandeur that is hard to match and even harder to surpass. The instrumentation is also well done because it doesn't view speed as the only asset it brings to the table. Some songs on this album slow down considerably to bring the more emotional side of the album to light. A prime example of this would be the ballad on this album, "Yin Yang", which uses both male and female vocalists to create a more solemn tone that gives the listener a chance to have their pulse slow down and just enjoy the art that Pathfinder have made with this album.
Much like their prior release, this album is an adrenaline shot of pure power metal. The music itself conjures up visions of great battles and gives the listener an overall triumphant feel of being able to conquer the battlefield. The lyrics are pretty standard fare for power metal, but one aspect of them interested me because the band themselves write some very pro-metal lyrics.
The instruments on this album are geared to sound very symphonic in nature. Keyboards are used, but they do not overpower the overall sound. The guitars have numerous solos, all of which are ridiculously impressive. The vocalist has a range that I have yet to hear from other power metal groups. Ever since I heard his vocals on their first full-length album, I am still impressed that he can sing the way he does. Despite hitting incredibly high notes at times, he sings superbly.
Not only do the lyrics on this album take on a very warlike nature, even some of the music itself models what you would expect to find during war. The track most evident of this quality would be "March to the Darkest Horizon". The track's anthem-like chorus sounds like troops marching into battle while singing to intimidate their foes. This album also has noticeably less slow moments than their previous work which I found to work well for the band.
I wouldn't go so far as to say that this album is superior to its predecessor, but it is a strong album that will show fans that their hopes for this album were not in vain. Pathfinder have solidified themselves as one of the few power metal bands out there who have a brilliant formula that works for more than one album and is fresh to the genre. There is no doubt in my mind that this album shall receive much praise from power metal enthusiasts and fans of metal in general. The only problem I can find with this album is that the last track, "Vita", starts out as a pretty good outro, but suddenly turns into a creepy sound effect that lasts for about a minute and goes nowhere. Other than that one forgettable track, everything else here is some of the best power metal out there.
Favorite Tracks: "Fifth Element" and "March to the Darkest Horizon"