Pathfinder – Beyond The Space, Beyond The Time – Review

It’s exceptionally tough to grasp the fact that this is a debut record from Poland’s Pathfinder. With their push-the-limits attitude, outside-the-box ambition and transcendent extension of fantasy-based music, the epic six-piece have truly dropped an a-bomb of a record to contend among 2011′s best.

Anyone with a clean-slate mind devoid of pre-judgement would argue that this is a polished attempt from a band that have been together for years – and you have to listen for 71-minutes to understand just why the misconception could so easily be made.

Beyond The Space, Beyond The Time has the weight of power metal’s finest with the magical dreaminess of Rhapsody Of Fire. Whether it be the stop-start, effective palm -perched next to the huge choirs and heroic keyboard on Sons Of Immortal Fire or the neo-classical Moonlight Sonata adaptation on Pathway To The Moon – it’s all killer no filler.

With guest appearances from Matias Kupiainen (Stratovarius), Roberto Tiranti (Labyrinth), Bob Katsionis (Firewind) and Michal Jelonek (Hunter), Pathfinder add yet another level of prestige and essentially, extra additions that would make any power metal buff drool a fountain – and it would be an epic one at that. But a few already established musicians aren’t even the main selling point to make you want to pick up this record.

Matias Kupiainen’s solo on Pathway To The Moon might be a piece of neo-classical genius and Bob Katsionis’ may have an equal impact in ending the 10-minute title track Beyond The Space, Beyond The Time – but importantly it is the complex compositions and unsuspected maturity of this newly surfaced band that make the biggest impression.

Hindsight is so very precious. When you put an album in the CD player – regardless of genre – and see anything over an hour, there’s a reserved scepticism that you’re about to hear a record butchered because of an inability to keep listeners reeled in for so long.

Monotony is not a problem for Pathfinder. There’s few who can pull off an over-the-top epic in the way that Rhapsody Of Fire did in last year’s The Frozen Tears Of Angels and Blind Guardian did in their classic 1998 album Nightfall In Middle Earth, but the Poles have the musical capacity and variety to crucially keep it interesting.

Gathering their symphonic sounds with a real orchestral whack, they don’t simply layer a complacent layer to the sound. Their versatility becomes increasingly evident, particularly when Undiscovered Dreams reveals a duel ballad featuring opera singer Agata Lejba-Migadaiska providing haunting, pristine, crystal vocals alongside regular vocalist Simon Kostro.

Beyond The Space, Beyond The Time is the fluent antithesis to the ‘less is more’ mentality.  Filled with clever, melodic, neo-classical work, a beautiful operatic backdrop and flexible vocals, Pathfinder have produced a must-have for fans of the genre.

If they continue in this direction, Pathfinder should not only find themselves trading blows with the heavyweights of power metal in due time, but with this freakishly fantastic debut, they have guaranteed a future success in power, neo-classical and symphonic circles while clustering a frenetic whirlwind of anticipation for next time round.

9/10

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