Eighth full-length album by the cult German Thrash Metal band.
The eight albums in a 30+ year career by a band that has hardly broken out beyond a small audience of die-hard Teutonic Thrashers, but while you might look at that as some proof of failure, it's also proof of consistency and sincerity. Necronomicon is not in this game to make friends and brown-nose trends, the differences between the material they make now and what they were putting out in 1986 are largely through minor aesthetic shifts, professionalism in production details, and all around seasoning. Where the band was never really a stranger to incorporating Speed, Heavy and Power Metal elements into their proper Thrashing, this effort is probably becoming most evident.
Now, the band has always more or less stood in the shadows of the far better known Destruction, and this is due primarily to the similarity in vocal styles, that nasty, pinched, slightly melodic rasp that the magnificent Schmier uses to convert the world. That timbre is certainly retained to top off this new material, with Volker 'Freddy' Fredrich remaining in place as the sole original member, but when it gets to the riffing a lot more semblance to other bands. You've got fast picked Speed Metal licks, and a lot of strong solid chords which honestly reminded me more of how bands like Accept, U.D.O. and Primal Fear put together songs, only with the clear differences in vocals. Perhaps a more direct comparison could be drawn to Schmier's other bands like Headhunter or his recent Heavy Metal supergroup Panzer, since they show tendencies to more Traditional Metal than his mainstay. Truly, "Pathfinder" is more of this than it is pure Thrashing, and thus you're getting a lot of solid, moody hooks and chord selections in cuts which are pretty good; Freddy's voice wavers and cuts through the meatier rhythms with a nice, clinical slice.
Big drums, thick bass that doesn't veer too much from the rhythm lines, and plenty of variation round out a substantial record upon which quite a number of tunes go well. The 70 minutes of content is consistently robust if not exceedingly catchy. Fans of classic bands like Iron Maiden will discover rather obvious homages, as in "Alone in the Dark", and a lot of similarities to some of the grimier tunes by the late X-Wild, especially with that mesh of harsher, rasping vocals with the consonant, Melodic Power Metal rhythm guitars. But a lot of this is pretty straight Judas Priest/Accept worship with the occasional lapse back into Thrashier territory, and respect has to be given that so late in their career they'd take some of the edge off, or at least invest in a different brand of razor to write something so measured, fluent and mature! Enjoy this like their prior albums "Invictus" and "Revenge Of The Beast"!!
Trollzorn Records, 2015 (TZ060). Made in Germany. First press.
1. Pathfinder... Between Heaven And Hell 7:14
2. Betrayed 5:55
3. Inside The Fire 5:34
4. Reborn 6:27
5. Under The Gun 5:15
6. We Are The League 4:43
7. Alone In The Dark 8:08
8. Farewell To A Friend 5:59
9. Monster 7:32
10. Out Of Hell 8:49
11. Killing Pain 4:10
Total playing time: 69:46