The Rough Path Of Nihilism
I think I can speak for most people when saying that we like an underdog story: a band pulling through an incredible amount of tragedy to create an impressive result. For those unfamiliar with Sorrows Path's misfortune as a band, it may surprise you to read that this is their debut album since forming 14 years ago. Line-up changes, military service, paralyzing injuries and the unfortunate death of their original bassist have all happened, and resulted in a lengthy evolution process for this album. However, a triumph of an album has emerged from the ashes of these tragedies. After being skeptical of the genre tag, I can safely proclaim this album as progressive power-doom.
Sorrows Path have created an album which, although not perfect, is a successful hybrid of the three genres, and in no way jarring to the listener. The band work together as a cohesive unit, with a production of which most bands can only dream. The drumming is creative and upfront like normal doom metal, but doesn't overpower the strong bass section and melodic yet technical solos. The bass is used in full effect during “Fetish” and “Getting Closer”, and there are numerous great moments of guitarwork. The choir and orchestra floating in the background are well-placed and add to the atmosphere and depth of the tracks.
The main vocalist has a theatrical voice, sounding not unlike Sotiris Vayenas of Septicflesh fame, and appropriate enough given their shared heritage. However, there is also an echo of the wailing clean of the traditional doom sound of Candlemass, albeit in a more mature format here. Also, it must be said that, despite the best intentions of variety, the backing vocals on “Honestly...” could be improved slightly. Lyrical themes start by having a common thread of love, ranging from the more romantic sense of “Getting Closer” to the lustful perversion of “Dirty Game”, before detouring towards the philosophical near the end. Unfortunately, many of the words are swallowed due to Ionnadis' vocal style, but at least they look good on paper.
There are many fine moments within this release, so I'll dissect just one of them. “Prostitute”, my favorite track on the album, does not initially have the stark memorability factor aside from the chorus, but after a while grows on the listener, especially the well-timed piano section at the end. It also showcases the band's influences of solid doom names like Black Sabbath, Solitude Aeternus and Candlemass, but also Sorrows Path's own unique approach. Maybe it's the prog parts, or the power metal undertones, or redefining the doom boundaries, but this album screams “unique”.
After spending some time with this album, there are very few issues that I have with it, and they are minute points compared to the overall enjoyment. Firstly, the production is pristine, which is both a strength and a weakness due to the guitars lacking a doom-esque crunch. The album is slightly too long, and I still find myself skipping some of the weaker tracks like “Queen Of Doom” and “Dirty Game”. Also, as mentioned, the vocals are an acquired taste and cannot be overlooked, so if they don't appeal then the magic of the album may be lost on you.
That aside, if you have any interest in doom metal, or even in well-crafted and mature melodic metal, then Sorrows Path are worth sampling. With so many years of practice under their collective belts, I can envision that any subsequent releases are also going to be noteworthy additions. 'Til then, doom on.
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Angel's rating: 3.5/5