Released by: Scarlet Records
Release Date: April 19th, 2019
Genre: Folk Metal
Samuel Faulisi – Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards
Fabrizio Tartarini – Guitars
Louie Raphael – Bass
Riccardo Floridia – Drums
1. The Coldest Year
2. The Moving Empire
3. Hagakure’s Way
5. The Great Run
6. Kia Kaha
7. Baba Jaga
10. The First Sight of a Blind Man
One of the most quietly exciting debuts I’ve heard in recent years was What the Oak Left, released in 2017 by Italian folk/symphonic metal band Atlas Pain. I had heard nothing about the band beforehand, only that they were an up and coming band signed to Scarlet Records, and so when I heard the album for the first time I had no expectations, and I was instantly blown away by the band’s addictive brand of epic melodeath infused folk metal. Now, the band is back with their sophomore release, Tales of a Pathfinder, and it is every bit as impressive, continuing with everything that worked on the debut, while pushing the folk melodies further to the front of the sound, to help make for an even more epic album.
In case the above description didn’t give it away, Atlas Pain definitely falls into similar territory as the likes of Ensiferum and Equilibrium, with the latter especially seeming to be a major influence, as many of the melodies on both their albums seem to be emulating the German act. However, where the previous album, and most albums by the aforementioned band, tend to be a fairly equal mix of folk and symphonic elements, Tales of a Pathfinder is definitely a folk metal album first, with almost all the main guitar melodies being rooted in traditional folk music, and there are definitely traces of folk instruments at times, as well, and the songs have the kind of cheery, epic vibe one would expect from the genre. It’s definitely a very upbeat and fun album, with some very melodic guitar work, and some pretty fun, cheesy keyboards at points, though it does still have some heavier sections, and the melodeath elements are very much as prominent as ever. Symphonic elements are largely toned down, but still appear on some tracks, especially the epic length closer “Homeland”, and there’s still a ton of fun choral sections, and some speedy, melodic power metal portions.
As far as the overall sound, everything sounds excellent, with all the instruments coming through clearly, and for an album with so much going on, the mixing is pretty much perfect, with everything sounding crisp and powerful, and even the sections with both harsh vocals and choral vocals are done perfectly, with the vocals blending together in a really cool way, so everything can be heard perfectly. The choral vocals, in general, are very fun and epic, as one would expect from the genre, while the harsh vocals are solid and fairly similar to Ensiferum or Equilibrium, mostly being fairly high pitched, but intense and powerful. If one could criticize anything about the harsh vocals, it’s that they’re maybe so typical sounding as to not stand out in any way, but they certainly get the job done, and vocalist (as well as guitarist and keyboardist) Samuel Faulisi does a great job, overall.
Songwriting is mostly straight-forward, with one exception right near the end, and the songs are very addictive and catchy, while still having quite a bit going on. Every song is very well written and a ton of fun to listen to, just like on the debut. My only real complaint about the album is the use of narration. I often complain about narration, if I feel it’s unnecessary, and in this case, it can be pretty annoying, as the narrator immediately makes his presence known on the otherwise fine intro track, and his voice is extremely over the top in an irritating way. He pops up occasionally throughout the album, and while he usually shows up at appropriate times, to avoid throwing the songs off completely, he can still be pretty annoying.
Following a brief intro featuring that aforementioned narrator, the first full track is “The Moving Empire”, and it’s the kind of speedy, melodeath infused folk fans of the debut would expect. It comes out right away with some heavy guitar work, intense drums, and some epic folk melodies, and it keeps the momentum going throughout, with some epic growls during the verses, which are paired up with even more epic choir vocals during the chorus, with perfect vocal mixing, and it certainly makes for one amazing start to the album! It’s one of the catchier, faster-paced songs on the album, and is an instant winner, for sure. Next is “Hagakure’s Way”, which moves along at a pretty good pace, without fully speeding up. It has some more great melodies, and the verses have a nice rhythm, with a strong melodeath feel, while still having some epic folk melodies. The chorus is largely growled, though the choral vocals are still there, and it’s very epic overall. The narrator does make a brief appearance, but he isn’t too bad this time, and the following section has a mix of beautiful folk melodies and a truly amazing, very melodic guitar solo. Excellent track overall. Following that is “Ódauðlegur”, a more mid-paced track, with some excellent heavy guitar work, with some very classic melodeath sounding guitars during the verses, as well as epic blastbeats during a purely growled chorus. The highlight is again some excellent guitar work, which has some excellent folk melodies mixed into it, as well as some epic choral vocals in the buildup to the chorus.
One of my favorite track is “The Great Run”, an incredibly happy, triumphant sounding track, which has some of the cheeriest melodies I’ve ever heard on a metal album. It’s very much an epic folk metal track, though there’s still a presence of melodeath from the growls and a bit of the guitar work. The choral vocals really stand out during the chorus, which is absolutely spectacular, and one of the happiest sounding choruses you’ll ever hear on a metal album, and it only gets even more epic during the final run through, as well a really cool instrumental section with some cheesy, but fun keyboards. It’s a short, simple and incredibly addictive track. On the opposite side of the spectrum is “Kia Kaha”, a longer, much more complex track, which starts out with a slow, melodic section that teases its main melody, with some epic chanting and percussion, before speeding up and presenting a much heavier, more rapid-fire version of the same melody. It’s another epic, very folk-infused track, with some excellent lead guitar melodies, and another excellent chorus. The folk melodies are the highlights, though, as they are truly epic and beautiful, and the vocal mixing is once again dead on during the chorus. Everything about the track is absolutely perfect, and it’s easily one of the best on the album.
On the slower side, “Baba Jaga” is another epic, more mid-paced track with a strong mix of melodeath riffs and folk melodies, with more fun growls during the verses, along with epic choral vocals during the chorus. The ending of the track is also incredibly epic, maybe a bit cheesy, but certainly very cheerful and memorable. My only complaint about the track is an extended narrative section in the middle, which drags it down a bit. The actual music and vocals are amazing, though, as always. Next is the softest track on the album, “Shahraz?d”. It’s a largely keyboard-driven track, with more epic folk melodies, and an amazing mix of choral vocals and growls during the chorus, which is extremely epic, cheerful and catchy, as always. It’s a soft, but very beautiful track, and it serves as a nice contrast to all the speedier, heavier tracks on the album.
Closing out the album in epic fashion is the 11 minute epic “Homeland”, a largely instrumental track, with a ton of memorable sections. It starts off with an extended instrumental section, largely keyboard driven and with some symphonic elements. Once the guitars kick in with some epic folk melodies, the song starts to take off, and the first vocal section is incredible, first with some growls and then with another slow, but incredibly epic and happy sounding chorus. The pace picks up after a while, leading to an incredible, lengthy installment section, with strong power metal elements, as well as more awesome folk melodies. It slows down again for a while, with some beautiful keyboards, and the second half is almost entirely instrumental, aside from rather strange vocals at one point, as well as some more narration. This part is the weakest section of the track and stops it from being completely perfect, but aside from that, the song is amazing and it definitely has some incredible moments. The album then closes out with “The First Sight of a Blind Man”, a nice instrumental piano piece, which serves a nice outro to the album.
I was immediately blown away by Atlas Pain when I first heard their debut two years ago, and aside from a slight overuse of irritating narration, their follow up, Tales of a Pathfinder, is every bit as epic and fun as I was hoping it would be! It’s the kind of epic, super addictive melodeath infused folk metal fans of Equilibrium and Ensiferum should love, and anyone who enjoyed the band’s debut should love this release, while I’d obviously recommend it to fans of the aforementioned bands, as well as anyone who likes hearing an epic combination of folk, melodeath, symphonic and power metal, as this will likely be one of the best, if not the absolute best, of its kind, released this year.
Written by: Travis Green
My Global Mind – Staff Writer
Travis Green is a Canadian based writer for My Global Mind, with a particular passion for power metal, as well as an interest metal in all its forms.