What a pleasant surprise we’ve got here! Milan, Italy based progressive death metallers Astral Path have put out their full-length debut album Ashes Dancer back in July. The quintet comprised of Eugene Yu on vocals, Gabriele Papagni on lead guitar, Fabrizio Argentieri on rhythm guitar, Jasmine Ljuba on bass and Francesco La Porta on drums, cites Opeth, In Flames, Between The Buried And Me, The Ocean Collective as some of their influences. And they are not wrong.
Ashes Dancer largely pays tribute to the Swedish death metal scene, with sound that is actually pretty well delivered and fun to listen to. An atmospheric intro “Journey” opens up the album, followed up with the early highlight “Blinded” with driving double kick and textbook harmonies. These guys are definitely not reinventing the wheel here but are quite competent in putting together some hooky tunes. The second half of the album feels stronger in terms of material; the execution is tighter. It possibly has to do with the fact that the second half of Ashes Dancer brings more material. “Drag Me Down” is to me the strongest tune on here. It is very difficult to not make an At The Gates comparison especially in terms of the way the riffs are arranged and played and also Yu’s vocal work has a similar cadence to Tomas Lindberg.
To me this album plays like a guilty pleasure, as I love melodic death. Ashes Dancer sounds like a classic mid nineties melodic Swedish death metal record. I can definitely tell that these guys have plenty of talent which will hopefully be fully exploited on the next releases. We may be quite surprised.