Since Italy's Rhapsody of Fire proclaimed their approach to be "film score metal" it seems other bands have jumped onto the bandwagon of said style. Poland's Pathfinder are one such act and their debut album, 'Beyond the Space, Beyond the Time', oozes movie soundtrack essence from the moment you hit play as instrumental opener, the 3+ minutes of 'Deep Into the Darkness Peering', with its grandiosely orchestral bombast, is akin to a film score vibe. That's one way to read it but, of course, I know others regard such album intros as superfluous and verging on pretension. Fortunately, it works here as a good in to the album, seguing as it does into 'The Whisper of Ancient Rocks', a speed metal number that's both interposed and embellished with classical orchestral instrumentation. It would be easy and, dare I say, unfairly dismissive to brand Pathfinder as a poor man's Rhapsody of Fire. However, while their generic intentions are evidently aligned with the Italian virtuosos' art, there is nothing verging on "poor" about these Poles. Breath-taking musicianship is on display throughout - drums, bass, keyboards, and guitars - and Simon Kostro's singing style is actually less histrionically ostentatious than Fabio Lione which will please those who have criticised Rhapsody of Fire for being a little over-the-top vocal-wise, but where Pathfinder fall a little short is in their songwriting. Where Rhapsody of Fire have refined their compositional abilities over a number of years to the point where they are indubitably master songwriters, Pathfinder have yet to attain this level of finesse. Still, to criticise them for such would be to judge 'Beyond the Space, Beyond the Time' and the band out of context in one sense for it is only their debut album and, for an initial effort, is mightily impressive. There are a number of notable guest musicians here - Roberto Tiranti (Labyrinth), Matis Kopiainen (Stratovarius), Michael Jeloniek (Hunter) and Bob Kastonis (Firewind), as well as Agata Lejba-Migadaiska's operatic vocals on particular tracks - and the combined talents of all involved personnel has resulted in a rather impressive collection of songs interspersed with the occasional instrumental piece. Generally speaking, it's up-tempo symphonic metal all the way but the slower-paced 'Undiscovered Dreams' is a welcome break in proceedings with a rather beautifully composed piano intro that builds up with melodically captivating lead guitar, bass, and down-tempo drums before giving way to a vocal duet between Kostro and Lejba-Migadaiska. Overall, well worth checking out if grandiose symphonic metal gets you excited.
BEYOND THE SPACE, BEYOND THE TIME
Review by Mark Holmes
2nd May 2011
1) Deep Into the Darkness Peering; 2) The Whisper of Ancient Rocks; 3) Vita Reducta: Through the Portal; 4) Pathway to the Moon; 5) All the Mornings of the World; 6) The Demon Awakens; 7) Undiscovered Dreams; 8) The Lord of Wolves; 9) Sons of Immortal Fire; 10) Stardust; 11) Dance of Flames; 12) To the Island of Immortal Fire; 13) Beyond the Space, Beyond the Time; 14) What If?
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"It would be easy and, dare I say, unfairly dismissive to brand Pathfinder as a poor man's Rhapsody of Fire. However, while their generic intentions are evidently aligned with the Italian virtuosos' art, there is nothing verging on "poor" about these Poles."