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A ragbag mix of sublime and ridiculous - 50%

Radagast, November 22nd, 2007
Written based on this version: 2004, CD, Steel Gallery Records

Pacing. It can be so vital to the enjoyment of a CD. Not only the order the tracks are presented in, but the balance between different styles and tempos across a CD has to be judged carefully for it to hold together as a cohesive piece.

Arryan Path's debut CD from 2004, 'Road to Macedonia', is apparently a selection of songs written by band members past and present going as far back as the late-90s, and the cobbled together nature of the CD certainly shows through in the end product. The band tag themselves as epic metal, but with the ballads and softer tracks actually making up the biggest percentage of the total running time, this is pretty questionable.

Even the opening track, "Return to Troy", one of several to breach the 7-minute mark, spends more than half its duration in ballad territory. While a reasonable song in itself, it is completely inappropriate to open proceedings with, and sets the tone perfectly for the rest of this lop-sided CD. While overall the music is of a decent standard, nothing flows evenly across the 9 tracks (11 counting the bonus tracks) and makes 'Road to Macedonia' a frustrating experience.

There are definite strong moments – the proper closing track "Epic of the sorrowful argonaut", is a stellar epic metal song, more properly rounded and driven by a much better main riff than the CD opener. And on the flip side of the coin, the acoustic penultimate track "Call for poseidon" is both soothing and inspiring. Unfortunately, in a by-this-time typically baffling track listing decision it immediately follows the long, and rather dreadful, love ballad "Immortal beloved". One ballad immediately following another – you'd think Arryan Path had just picked opening and closing songs then threw the rest up in the air and left them where they fell.

It doesn't help matters at all when the first of the 2 is so cringeworthy. The liner notes make a joking reference to 'Backstreet Boys going metal', and it's probably a comparison the band would have been best not making themselves. Distort those crashing power chords all you want, it doesn't make it even close to a metal song.

Another weak point is the band's eponymous song, which starts rather promisingly on a classic metal riff before being struck down first by some out-of-place and cheap-sounding keyboard noodling over the verses and then by a chorus incredible in it's repetitiveness and lack of inspiration ("Arryan Path is calling, Arryan Path... ad infinitum"). It's a shame really, as it is one of only a couple of straight-ahead metal tracks that could have served to inject the CD with some much needed vigour.

Another of these fleeting moments comes at the very end of the CD. And to really sum up just how haphazard the layout of 'Road to Macedonia', is, the song appears twice. The bonus tracks are the Helloween-influenced "Ivorian", followed by a virtually identical demo version of the same song. It's just unreal that on a CD so obviously crying out for a little extra velocity here and there that a song like this is stuck on at the end just to be repeated again.

With a little more care and attention to which songs made the final cut, and then to the order in which they were placed on the CD, this could have been a far more inspiring effort. The way things have ended up, even the better songs will make it difficult for a listener to muster enthusiasm for repeat listens. Hopefully future efforts from this band will be planned out with a bit more basic organization.

(Originally written for