Review by Rick Ossian
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Viathyn are Tomislav Crnkovic (vocals and guitar), Jacob Wright (lead guitar), Dave Crnkovic (drums) and Alex Kot (bass). This is their second album, following 2010’s The Peregrine Way and the 2008 instrumental EP, Demagogue.
From the slamming heraldry of the opener, Ageless Stranger, it is immediately apparent that Calgary‘s Viathyn are prog thrash of the highest order, dripping in majesty and dramatic arrangements. Said opener features some seriously shredding drums and guitar, as well as angelic vocals. There is more pomp and circumstance than anything else, and one must wonder whether they are taking themselves too seriously, or if they are delivering these tracks with a bit of tongue in cheek..?
The Coachman is up next, and though it is considerably shorter than the rest of the tracks on offer here (a mere 5:41), it thrashes merrily along with more shredding lead guitar solos (3:30) and growling vocals (3:00), as well as a classical music-style closing.
Edward Mordrake is a bizarre tune indeed, but what makes it even more so is its subject matter. Seems Mr. M. is one of a handful of folks who had an extra head/face, somewhat akin to Professor Quirrell/Voldemort in Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone. It is, as the opener was, majestic – almost pompous in its grandeur. The lyrics suggest we ‘drink to our collective health‘ (and probably be thankful that we’re NOT like Ed). At the 3-minute mark there is a vocal interlude of sorts. Some very fast tempo(s) here, especially around 3:30. There is the obligatory shredding lead guitar solo at 3:55, and some shifting of gears at 4:20. At 5:30 there is more shredding lead guitar, almost a bouncy shred, if you will!
Shadows In Our Wake is presumably about trees. The lyrics suggest this on more than one occasion: “When we were trees/When we were roots/When we fell/When we grew”. This track features the standard metal shred rhythm intro, as well as more of the bobbing, bouncy melodic guitar stuff. At 4 minutes in there is a triumphant vocal return, and a Blackmore-style guitar solo from 4:45 till 5:30.
Countess of Discordia (what a title!) features big bass guitar on the intro and some Steve Vai-style guitar noodling. There is grandeur and majesty again, this time mainly on the guitar. I caught myself jamming on air guitar trying to keep up with the speediness of the rhythm. only to fail resoundingly! There is a band ‘solo’ jam of sorts, if that were possible, and some serious shredding throughout.
Time Will Take Us All is a vocal AND instrumental tour-de-force, including a singing and atmospheric guitar intro, some shifting of gears (2:10), and even faster around the 3-minute mark. Some shredding guitar and wickedly busy drum work ensue.
Three Sheets to the Wind (another great title by the way) is guitar-heavy again, this time with a Scottish vibe of sorts. Almost a metal version of Big Country, if you can imagine that! I kept wondering when the bagpipes were going to kick in…There is a very neat solo at 4:15, as well as some bass at about 3:30. Glasses tinkling at the end sort of bring home the alcoholic intent of the title.
Albedo features more of the same, shredding riffery at the opening with drums. The lead and rhythm guitar reminded this writer of Yngwie Malmsteen, among others. More gear shifting (2:20), more busy drumming (3:45), more piano (4:30), and a shift to ‘storyteller’ mode at 4:50. It is mellow. The guitar almost sounds like a saxophone.
The title track and closer, Cynosure, is about someone who likes to be ‘the centre of attention or admiration‘. There is a HOLY CRAP sort of intro here, which suggests that they may have saved the best tune for last. Several shifts/speeds ensue, as well as some major shredding lead guitar work. There is another band ‘solo’ jam, if you will, at about the 7:20 mark, and before we know what hit us, it’s all over. Eight leviathan jams, and one not-so-large, but still worthy. Good stuff.