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An immersive experience - 96%

criscool623, September 6th, 2020
Written based on this version: 2018, CD, Narcoleptica Productions (Digipak, limited edition)

Shoegaze was (and in a certain way continues being) a totally unknown term for me; when I approached to this band, I was mainly looking forward to listening to a kind of atmospheric or doom-influenced black metal release, similar to bands like Trist, Burzum, Nargaroth or those atmospheric bands. When I finally checked it out, I was pleased, as the album had accomplished with my expectations, but let's get into matter little by little.

"Leave No Path To Follow" arrived as a fresh blow of air to my life. It's the kind of release that I needed. After looking for some material approached more to the vein of a slow and doom-like black metal (and more because of the continuous listening to thrash metal stuff that was starting to bore me), Krigsgrav arrived with all of those aspects and more. This is a pleasure, as I needed this kind of relaxing and hypnotic kind of music that invites the listened to calm down and let himself take by the music. Really, this is not an album that seeks to be brutal or aggressive (I think nobody approaches this kind of bands in hopes of listening to that, though), but it pretends to be an aural voyage to the most relaxed state of yourself. It sounds poetic (or ridiculous), but it's the feeling this album transmits to me: peace, tranquillity and relaxation (maybe in a not-very-orthodox manner, but there's always a cup of tea for everyone).

And that leads me to another strong aspect of the album: the songs. Most of them surpass the duration of 7 minutes and most of them are repetitive and minimalist, but being an album influenced by doom metal, this aspect is valid and an advantage for those who seek long, but relaxing songs; it´s an aspect that would be suitable for fans of albums like "Hvis Lyset Tar Oss" or "Jahreszeiten" in terms of duration, but with that strength that characterises doom metal. Additionally, the instrumentation and the production help these songs have a powerful sound, even when it's not the main intention of the music. It's a wall of sound that pierce your ears owing to the thick and prominent sound of the bass in the mix (primordial in this kind o releases, to my eyes). These elements make the music an even more immersive experience.

The voice is descent. It's not outstanding, but it works. It's kind of reminiscent to Immortal's vocal style; not so violent, but harsh enough to be considered black metal. However, some timid hues in the form of death metal growls can be heard in certain parts of the music, which are a good addition.

The elements used are very economic and limited: tremolo picking, some punctual melodies that are continuously repeated and heavy riffs are the main dish of the album. Nevertheless (and retaking what I said at the first paragraph of this review), something that called my attention were the little clean guitar-based arpeggio sections hidden in some parts; as I told, shoegaze goes on being a new term for me, but I like to think that these sections in particular are characteristics of this shoegaze style; I'm not totally sure of this, but I wanted to mention how good was this aspect, which add a plus to the music.

Despite the marvel that I think this album is, I found some details I wanted to mention (but which are not bad enough to demerit the awesomeness of the rest of it).

Well, I found hilarious a specific riff taken from "The Withering", which is EXACTLY THE SAME RIFF that I've listened to in 4 sounds taking into account this one (more specifically, at the minute 7:32). The original song (or the oldest that I know, as to this point I wouldn't be surprised if I find out it's a rip-off as well) that contains this riff is "Acid Rain" by D.R.I., but I'm pretty sure you better know it by being the main riff of "The Pursuit of Viking" of Amon Amarth; time later, I discovered that the song "Gloryhammer" of the band with the same name included the same riff in their song, and when I heard the same riff in this release, I simply screamed with laugher; I found risible the times the same riff has been used in metal songs.

Also, there's a melody that I found too repetitive during all the song, and It's that one from "Strength Through Wounding". I think it would have better if that melody just was heard in certain moments and not in EVERY SECOND of the track. Who knows, maybe you find it pleasant, but it's something I needed to point out.

To finally conclude, "Leave No Path To Follow" is an immersive experience. If you like doom and black metal, you like this kind of black metal more oriented to the atmospheric aesthetic or is you simply want to listen to a dark record without neglecting the production, THIS is your album. I'm fortunate enough for having been able to get one of the 100 copies of its digipack edition, but it can be found in several streaming platforms, so you don't have an excuse for not giving it an opportunity.

P.D. I forgot to mention the great decision that was putting the Katatonia cover at the end of the album. Don't miss it.