Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Desolate Pathway "Valley of the King"

    Desolate Pathway’s, “Valley of the King,” is a musical journey that take listeners through a valley full of epic fantasy based lyrics and melodic doom metal compositions. This debut release is crafted as if telling a story similar to that of, The Lord of the Rings, but told with melodic metal style vocals and doom sounding instrumental atmospheres.

    The band was formed in the United Kingdom by Vince Hempstead who played in the iconic doom band Pagan Altar for a bit. Now, usually when I think of fantasy based lyrics I tend to associate them with power metal music, so this was a unique blend in my opinion. I noticed when listening to the album, the band really put thought into each songs’ theme by adding different sound effects to compliment the lyrics.

    Musically this album definitely rings true to the traditional heavy metal formula with an emphasis on the haunting doom style riffs. The opening title track, starts the tale off with the sounds of knights fighting and then breaks into a mellow sounding arrangement. The band’s singer narrates over the slow moving catchy riffs with this melodic yet powerful voice that reminds me a bit of Ian Gillan’s vocal delivery.

    The following tracks all seem to demonstrate that slow Sabbath like instrumental style, but the vocals add a melodic deviation from the darker instrumental sounds. Songs like “Desolate Pathway” and “Forest of Mirrors,” come across as gloomy but still inject a triumphant tone at times. “Last of My Kind,” was one song that vividly stood out for me on this album. The song begins with a strong repetitive bass line and eventually develops into this massive sounding chorus section. Overall, I thought the band put a great amount of musical variation into the track and the song was well recorded.

    Track number five, “Season of the Witch,” had a more classic hard rock sound. Besides the cheesy sounding witch cackle, I thought the track was another solid brick in the story Desolate Pathway was telling. “King of Vultures,” continued to focus on the straightforward dark doom riffs and basic rock drum arrangements. The final two songs, “Shadow of the Tormentor” and “Upon the Throne of Lights,” put the finishing touches on this album’s musical and lyrical narrative. Both tracks featured the same instrumental formula that could be heard on the other songs. Of course, there are these deviations from the main verse sections that keep the songs interesting and not too repetitive.

    For those heavy metal fans who might enjoy epic fantasy themed lyrics matched with a melodic doom sound, I would recommend Desolate Pathway’s “Valley of the King.” The album can be a tad gimmicky at times, especially with witch cackles and knights fighting. Still, the musicianship and songwriting is extremely solid, so I think the album is worth hearing if you are a fan of melodic doom metal...or a fan of, The Lord of the Rings, who might become a fan of melodic doom metal after hearing this album.

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