Review Summary: After a debut that comes very close to the edge of being a ground breaking album for the symphonic power metal realm, we see Pathfinder strike back in 2012 with an even stronger effort.
Before I get started with this review, I have to stress the fact that Pathfinder is practically a Rhapsody (of Fire) rip off – but the execution of different characteristics within their music, and overall general performance, actually makes up for their lack of innovation in the power metal genre. Having said that, this doesn’t mean that you should write them off so quickly. Instead, Fifth Element
, or even their debut are still exciting albums, that captivate the listener with epic fantasy based themes. However, the nature of the beast that lies within the band is solely to have fun. And that’s what Fifth Element
, and Pathfinder are all about – cheesy, fantasy that’s solely meant for fun.
Basically, Fifth Element
is a follow up to its predecessor. However, there isn’t genre defying moments that show quality of improvement in the aspect of absurd creativity. Nevertheless, there is improvement. The kinds of improvement that fans or observers witness before a band outdo themselves and create a potential classic within their subgenre of playing style; the kind of classic that they can live off for years. Compared to their debut, Fifth Element
starts to shift gears melodically away from orchestration to rely on more melodic input form Karol Mania and Gunsen on guitars. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t tasteful symphonic/orchestration moments. But Karol and Gunsen don’t stop there. They show a more balanced approach to limited melodic moments, to full blown out solos in practically every song. However, the balance of their playing doesn’t isolate the other band mates, and focus on them and only them per se. But if we do compare Beyond the Space, Beyond the Time
and Fifth Element
we do see improvement from Karol and Gunsen. So they deserve the improvement award without a doubt.
Ultimately, what makes the Fifth Element
so great is the balance of power. The album presents a combination of well-executed guitars, electronic keyboard solos, orchestrations, and the ever evolving vocal trends that are portrayed by their ever-so talented singer, Szymon Kostro. I hate to do this, but I personally have to stress the claim that Szymon is an extremely talented singer. From raspy screams, to mid-range singing that can possibly jump to a Geddy Lee pitch anytime is quite impressive and enjoyable by maintaining interest throughout the album for the listener.
In Conclusion, the Fifth Element
is a significant step forward in the right direction for these happy-go-lucky Polish power metallers. And despite any criticism of Pathfinder being a Rhapsody (of Fire) rip off, is blatantly false. Especially when we consider their age, their current maturing sound, and their already developed signature sound of the “beauty-and-the beast” vocal style. At the end of the day, the balance of power that was incorporated by everyone’s input is what makes this album great.