I've been an obsessed hard rock & heavy metal fan and collector since the early 1980s. If it's got a good guitar riff and attitude, I'm in.
Warrior Path: "The Mad King"
Label: Stormspell Records, 2021
Genre: Traditional/Power Metal
10 Tracks / Run Time: 52:09
The Greek power metal stalwarts of Warrior Path have returned with a new opus, The Mad King, which was released by the true-metal specialists at Stormspell Records in March 2021. I was greatly impressed by this quartet's self-titled debut album in 2019, and I am pleased to report that The Mad King maintains their tradition of high-quality, melodic-but-heavy traditional metal.
Most of the players on The Mad King are the same—guitarist Andreas Siananoglou, drummer Dave Rundle, and guitarist/bassist Bob Katsionis are all back for a second round, but Warrior Path has added one very important new ingredient: vocalist Daniel Heiman. Long time 'heads may remember Heiman from the early '00s power metal combo Lost Horizon, whose Awakening the World album is still a bit of a cult classic in some circles. Anyone who's heard his previous projects can attest that Daniel is more than capable of stepping into Warrior Path's vocal slot and filling the shoes left vacant by Yannis Popadopolous, who performed on the debut but had to return to his day gig with Beast in Black.
Together, this recharged foursome has created another slab of classy, slick, fantasy-themed swords 'n shields power metal with the perfect balance of melody and crunch.
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Once you get past the cool, fantasy-comic style album cover (which gives off some serious Savatage Hall of the Mountain King vibes), Warrior Path takes the listener on a journey through the life of a medieval king who, as you might have guessed from the album's title, is a bit mad, thanks to a curse placed on him by a witch (I hate when that happens...).
The opening instrumental "It Has Begun" sets a nice Middle-Age-y mood, with flutes and strings peeking out from behind the wall of guitars and thunderous drum work. The Renaissance-Faire vibe continues into the title track, and when Heiman cuts loose with his first high-pitched wail, listeners will be likely to throw their devil horns and shout "Awwwww yeah!" Daniel goes for broke on this tune, instantly letting Warrior Path's fans know that there's a new sheriff in town and everything's in good hands.
The Maiden-ish chug of "His Wrath Will Fall" and the balls-to-the-wall speed metal burner "Beast Of Hate" keep the air guitars goin' and the true metal flag flyin', leading into the album's mid-point highlight, the seven-minute plus epic "Don't Fear the Unknown," which features some lovely acoustic guitar work from Katsionis and Sinanoglou before exploding into a big, all-men-play-on-ten power metal stormer with a fists-in-the-air chorus.
The Medieval march of "Savage Tribe" and the pummeling "Avenger" (which opens with a very Manowar-esque spoken word bit about fathers and swords) crash into the swirling, sinister "Out From the Shadows," and the album's closing one-two punch of "Neverending Fight" and "Last Tale," which will leave listeners wanting more.
Summing it Up
I am still not quite sure if I like The Mad King better than Warrior Path's debut album, but then I haven't been living with The Mad King for as long, either. Honestly, either album is worth hearing if you're a fan of old-school melodic power metal, played with skill and conviction. These guys are definitely channeling the spirits of the greats like Iron Maiden, Savatage, and Crimson Glory, and though I only have a digital promo copy of The Mad King at the moment, I will definitely be adding a CD to my collection as soon as I can.
Stormspell Records' hype sheet for The Mad King declares it "the album of 2021," and while it might still be a bit too early in the year to make that call, I will say that Warrior Path has emerged as a serious contender alongside Accept's Too Mean to Die and Todd La Torre's Rejoice in the Suffering on my "best of 2021" list.
To put it simply: The Mad King rocks like a ton of bricks, and every "true" metal fan out there should eat this album up. End of discussion!
To learn more about Warrior Path you can check out the band's official Facebook page, and further information on The Mad King CDs can be found at Stormspell Records' Bandcamp site. Collectors, be warned, Stormspell's CD version will be a "limited pressing" so if you want to put this one on your shelf, act fast!
© 2021 Keith Abt