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 Desolate Pathway - Valley Of The King (2014) Album Review

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PostDesolate Pathway - Valley Of The King (2014) Album Review

Desolate Pathway - Valley Of The King (2014)
Self-Released -- Running Time: 37:33


When first looking at the cover artwork to Desolate Pathway's debut album 'Valley Of The King' it reminded me of Stephen King's 'The Dark Tower' series of books in which Roland Deschain of Gilead leads his 'ka-tet' on an almost impossible journey. There are some similarities to that story within the music of Desolate Pathway as it deals with a knight, Prince Palidor, leading his small army of followers to the Valley Of The King, beyond the desolate pathway and into the forest! You could however pick similar, including Lord Of The Rings, The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever or any number of stories for comparison.

I wouldn't usually spend time talking about a concept album in depth but, as old as this story might seem, it has captured my imagination and much of that has to do with not only the imagery that this new band have used but also how it is dealt with in the music, which of course is what you all want to hear about!

Desolate Pathway describe themselves as 'Epic English Doom Metal' put together by former Pagan Altar guitarist Vince Hempstead and you'll get no arguments from me on that description as 'Valley Of The King' is probably the best Doom Metal album I've heard in a long while. Not all Doom grabs my attention, It sometimes feels extremely plodding and I wish I could speed it up but Desolate Pathway have done what many bands in this genre fail to do and have made an album that early Candlemass would be proud of. This has elements of the great 'Epicus Doomicus' Metallicus' all over it but in no way copies it. Put that together with the cracking story and you've got a winner!

Joining Vince's impassioned guitar work are the beautifully emotional vocals of Simon Stanton and the excellent rhythm partnership of Jim Rumsey on bass and Mags on drums. They are excellent because, and this is the other common issue with Doom, they don't let the music feel empty but not once do you feel like they are overplaying! I will also add it's great to see another superb female musician in a Metal band and Mags sure knows her way around the drum kit!

From the short spoken introduction and the first, guitar driven, notes of the opening title track (which is also the single and has a great accompanying video) you are indeed taken on a wonderful and epic journey. Simon's vocals are excellent and the lyrics sung clearly which add to your enjoyment and understanding of the concept and the music is melancholy, as only Doom can be, but also uplifting at the same time. It certainly takes no effort whatsoever to push the play button again and again. This is the sort of melancholy that you need in your life. Choruses stick in your head like glue, there are no shortage of standout riffs, brief samples of birds, thunder and battles permeate the album that add even more atmosphere and the whole thing has been wonderfully produced, but not overly so. This still sounds like a real, four piece band. Experience is the key, you know full well that Desolate Pathway will play this almost exactly the same live and that's a good sign!

Other than the fact Desolate Pathway could perhaps be a little more adventurous with their song titles (something I have already mentioned to Mags),'Valley Of The King' is a fabulous debut from a great new band. When I close my eyes I feel like I've joined Prince Palidor on his journey and music that conveys that much imagery and passion is well written indeed!

Review written exclusively for Brutiful Entertainment by Rick Tilley:

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