Pieces of Fate
I know it’s considered terribly old-fashioned these days, but I still purchase most of my music by ordering physical CDs directly from bands. Normally, it’s a pretty impersonal process, with a band member occasionally scribbling a note on the invoice saying “thank you” or “you rock.” So imagine my surprise when I received my order from the German band Elvenpath containing their latest album, ‘Pieces of Fate.’ Enclosed with the disc was a three-paragraph handwritten letter from guitarist Till Oberbossel thanking me for supporting the band, requesting feedback (with the caveat, “But be honest please!”) and stating the band’s aspirations to travel to the USA for a gig someday. A big deal? Maybe not, but it was a greatly appreciated (and all too rare) personal touch that reflects very favorably on the band. So I decided that, rather than just sending Till a message with feedback, I’d do a full-blown review of ‘Pieces of Fate.’ Here we go.
Elvenpath are a veteran twin-guitar German power metal band that have been slugging it out in the trenches since just after the turn of the millenium. The earliest CD of theirs that I own, entitled ‘Gateways,’ was recorded back in 2003. There have been several more since then, all released with little fanfare or international acclaim, so Elvenpath have been under the radar for a long time. The name is a bit misleading, because it conjures up images of unicorns and leprechauns and frilly shirts and layers of keyboards. Elvenpath really don’t have anything to do with that nonsense. They play powerful, guitar-driven, crunchy German metal along the lines of Paragon, Metal Inquisitor and Majesty, as well as a generous helping of post-reunion Iron Maiden. Guitarist Oberbossel and bassist Christian Flindt have been the mainstays in an ever-shifting cast of characters, but histrionic vocalist Dragutin Kremenovic (who has more than a few operatic tendencies) and guitarist Olli Rossow have stuck around for a few years and seem well-entrenched. Elvenpath have never been known to take the easy path from a compositional standpoint, as their calling card has always been epic tracks routinely exceeding seven minutes in length and sometimes breaking the 10-minute barrier. In today’s short attention-span society, it can be a real challenge to write lengthy material without losing the audience, but for the most part Elvenpath are well and truly up to the task.
At its core, ‘Pieces of Fate’ is a well-rounded slab of traditional Teutonic steel that checks all the right boxes, from the heart-pounding speedsters like “Mountain of Sorrows” and “Queen Millenia” (those exquisite guitar melodies!) to mid-paced fists-in-the-air anthems like “Wild Boars of Steel,” the latter a paean to the heavy metal underground featuring the memorable couplet, “Wacken ain’t the place to be / Just losers, greed and misery.” Haha, preach it brothers! The guitarwork of Oberbosse and Rossow is excellent, and the vocals of Kremenovic are effective without sounding generic. The songs are well-constructed, with more than enough nuggets of ear candy and catchy refrains to offset the occasionally-monotonous arrangements. I’ll be honest that the faster, peppier, more energetic tracks work better for me than some of the more sluggish material (“Testament of Tragedy” comes to mind), and there are few spots in the 68-minute playing time where things drag a bit. But ‘Pieces of Fate’ is a well-done, compelling effort that avoids the cookie-cutter sameness that plagues so many bands today. Fans of German metal, power metal or quality heavy metal in general would be well advised to take a walk on the Elvenpath.
~ Review by Kit Ekman ~