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Lord Almighty – Paths
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Lord Almighty – Paths

Let me start by saying that it’s rare for me to give an album a maximum rating, but this one definitely deserves it.

It’s been my unpopular opinion for a while now that American black metal is some of the best black metal you can find these days, with bands like Wolves in the Throne Room, Leviathan or Krallice pushing the genre forward into new directions, even though they are often labeled as not “trv”. As such, it wasn’t necessarily a surprise to me that Boston-based Lord Almighty would sound atypical for a black metal band. It was a surprise however that they would sound this good.

Lord Almighty’s debut full length Paths is already one year old and it is impressive in more than one way. Firstly, it’s a debut album, but it feels cohesive. Secondly, it’s a self-released album, but there’s nothing to complain about in the production, being quite clear in the more melodic parts, while still maintaining some black metal roughness when it’s needed. On some tracks you can even hear the bass guitar! That’s unusual for black metal. Lastly, it’s one damn year old and I haven’t heard of it.

Paths clearly has a black metal core, often erupting into blastbeats and tremolo riffs and of course employing raspy vocals throughout, but it’s really the progressive aspect of the music that drives the songs forward. Thankfully, the tracks stay short, and the longest one, Desolate, only clocks in at six minutes and a half, so it also doesn’t feel like it’s dragging along (which is often the case with progressive metal).

You can feel a whole lot of influences on the album, but none of them feel forced or out of place. The ones that stand out the most are the guitar solos, as on Path III and The Tower and the cleaner, melodic riffs on O Wanderer, but one must note also the sludgier feel on I Embark, the Black Sabbath worship on Possessed and the southern melodies a la Thin Lizzy on the closing track, Beware the Wolves.

Here is where I should describe the shortcomings of the album, but if I would have any to describe, Paths wouldn’t have gotten a perfect score. Just go ahead and listen to it. If you want to start with something, start with O Wanderer, it’s the most unique track of the album and it’s bound to appeal to progressive metal fans and to black metal fans alike.