Review: Atlas Pain – Tales of a Pathfinder

The Italian epic folk metal band Atlas Pain already exists for six years, the last four years of which have been with their current line-up, consisting of vocalist/guitarist/keyboard player Samuele Faulisi, drummer Riccardo Floridia, bass player Louie Raphael and guitarist Fabrizio Tartarini. In 2014 these Italians released their first demo, which we already reviewed here. In the year that followed they released their debut EP Behind The Front Page, which we also reviewed here. In 2017 it was time for Atlas Pain to release their debut full-length, titled What The Oak Left. Now, two years after this full-length debut, a second full-length album by these epic folk metallers will be released. This album will have the title Tales of a Pathfinder and will be released on April the 19th via Scarlet Records.

While reviewing Atlas Pain’s earlier demo and EP and while listening What The Oak Left one thought kept entering my mind: it doesn’t matter how many times I will listen to their material, this really is epic as fuck! Is that also the case with Tales of a Pathfinder? We shall see…

The concept behind Tales of a Pathfinder is an epic steampunk fairy tale that gets the listener on a journey towards discovering unknown lands and hidden cultures. This starts with intro The Coldest Year in which we hear a freak show leading into an announcement of this journey. It is a very nice introduction that gets to sound more epic the further it goes, in the end flowing into The Moving Empire. This track immediately kicks in very nicely with a folky but heavy vibe. At some moments a little bit of power metal seems to shine through, something that I also thought of Behind The Front Page, while reviewing that EP. However, this is in combination with the already mentioned folky vibe and the brutal growls of Samuele Faulisi, which makes it of course very different compared to power metal itself. Also due to the pretty high tempo of The Moving Empire this is a very nice kick-off track for this album, it’s almost impossible to sit still and not release energy while listening to this track.

Although that is pretty much the case for the entire album, because this album contains an enormous dose of energy, it has an equally large dose of variation. Listen for example to Homeland, which by the way also is the longest track on Tales of a Pathfinder. This track contains a relaxing, atmospheric intro slowly building up to Atlas Pain’s epic folk metal, with quite a few rhythm changes, but it also contains a well-done instrumental part. To me this track seems a perfect track as a closing track of an Atlas Pain show, while looking back on an epic show, ultimately flowing into, just as on the album, The First Sight of a Blind Man sounding while the audience gives Atlas Pain a final applause and everybody goes towards their homeland.

Atlas Pain also thought very well about details on Tales of a Pathfinder, which will give you new surprises each time you’re listening to this album. A few examples of these are the ambient part in Shahrazād and the choir-like vocals in Ódauðlegur. Speaking about vocals, these can be heard in different ways on Tales of a Pathfinder. It contains furiously raging growls and epic sounding clean vocals, that sometimes can be heard at the same time, but also can be interchanged. Another thing that Samuele Faulisi is capable of with his voice are very deep grunts, like we can hear at some parts in the aforementioned Shahrazād and The Great Run. Besides those ways of vocals Tales of a Pathfinder also contains some spoken word parts. A few examples of these can be heard in, of course, the introducing The Coldest Year, but also in Baba Jaga, a track in which it also gets very clear how fluently Atlas Pain handles their musical transitions.

Samuele Faulisi’s keyboards as well as the guitars done by him and Fabrizio Tartarini also definitely are worth extra mentioning. For example in Hagakure’s Way these both are definitely adding something extra to the track, with the guitars also showing, besides tight riffs, a very nice solo.

With such an enormously awesome album as Tales of a Pathfinder is, it of course is very difficult to choose a personal favorite track. This entire album is phenomenal! However, when I have to make a choice, it would be Kia Kaha. To me this track stands out a little bit more compared to the rest, but it all is very close. Beginning with an mysterious intro, that builds up while getting much more epic during that, Kia Kaha almost can’t be anything else than a future folk metal live classic. Such energy!

So, back to my question earlier. Is Tales of a Pathfinder, just as Atlas Pain’s earlier material, also epic as fuck? I can only give you one answer to that question: hell yeah! Tales of a Pathfinder is extremely epic with tracks that are all on their own very strong. This album surely surpasses Atlas Pain’s earlier material, while those were already of a fairly high quality. Tales of a Pathfinder truely is a big recommendation for everyone liking folk metal.

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