The Peregrine Way
As any regular reader will know, I've had a thing for Canadian power metal lately. I can't believe how many quality albums came out in 2010 from a scene that I hadn't even realized existed. Sure, I'd heard of Forgotten Tales and even Icewind, but what about Instanzia, Heroik, and now Viathyn? It was more than I could keep up with at once, and so I'm just now getting to Viathyn's quality release.
Unlike the other bands I've mentioned, Viathyn hails not from Quebec, but rather from the western half of the nation: Calgary, Alberta, to be specific. Their self-released debut The Peregrine Way is a progressively tinged work of guitar-centric power metal with a light blush of neo-classical influence to color their musical complexion. Despite the good production for a self-release (as well as lead guitarist Jake Wright's barely-controlled urge to shred), Viathyn conveys at times a very medieval feeling throughout a number of their songs. I don't mean via folky instrumentation, but rather the arrangement and tonal feeling of some of the compositions (think Falconer at times, but less crunchy and more progressive). This is helped along by the significant vocal talent of lead singer Tomislav Crnkovic.
The Peregrine Way goes down pretty easy. For power metal, it is fresh and hardly redundant. There are plenty of soft instrumental interludes and preludes, gliding choruses , occasional atmospheric synths, and more-than-proficient vocal lines. All of this, crowned with galloping guitar leads, brings to mind the word that I associate with the album as a whole: Freedom. Purposefully or not, the sometimes thoughtful, sometimes joyous feeling of the music conveys a sensation of unfettered liberty that permeates much of the music. I realize I may be in the minority here, but I feel this very strongly.
With so much mediocre junk coming from Europe nowadays (Kerion, Minuetum, Skylark, etc.), it's a bit of a wonder to me that Viathyn haven't attracted the attention of a small label for release of this album. The musicianship is tight and proficient in all areas, the sound is well-defined, and the band is obviously passionate about their music. My two personal favorite tracks off of the album illustrate these qualities as well or better than the others. “Through the Orchard” begins as a soothing instrumental stroll which stretches into a wistful and yearning commentary on a simple and beautiful, yet troubled life. “Twilight Haven” is a bit more straightforward: it's more instrumental, and home to some of the best guitar work on the album. Granted, these are the two longest tunes on the album (both clocking in over eight and a half minutes), but this in itself is a testament to the songwriting talent that is present on The Peregrine Way, as neither of them come close to wearing out their hearty welcome.
Put shortly, Viathyn have put forth a debut full-length that's both stirring and talented. This will appeal to a great number of fans of both power and heavy metal, and especially those who appreciate less cheesy and (in a way at least) more idyllic lyricism. I strongly recommend looking into this album and purchasing it. There are a few signs of musical immaturity and the production isn't the finest, but this is a singular and highly enjoyable listen.
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The Protagonist's Rating: 7.75 out of 10