Album Review: Path of Might – Deep Chrome

Band: Path of Might | Album:Deep Chrome | Genre: Progressive metal, Sludge metal | Year: 2022

From: St. Louis, USA | Label: Encapsulated Records

For fans of: Mastodon, Baroness, Hawkwind, Elder

Bandcamp

Path of Might’s self-titled debut was one of my earliest purchases on Bandcamp. I loved the intelligent song structures and the visceral intensity of their playing. I apparently missed their 2017 sophomore album, but now it’s 2022, and they’ve got a third full-length release for the world.

The overall sound I remember from their debut is still here in this new release. The music is powerful and unrelenting, often evoking early Mastodon. But they have also become more refined. They’ve added keyboards to their music, and that addition has brought new richness.

“Viper Matrix” opens the album with a sense of urgency. The pummeling main riff and shouted vocals work excellently together, and ethereal synthesizer tones go a long way in making everything sound full and fleshed-out. When the band slows things down in the instrumental second half, the synths make this track sound truly grandiose and epic. Following this song is  “Wormhole”, a sub-two-minute interlude featuring contrasting synth tones. Something coarse and industrial thumps out a rhythm as a lighter tone glides fluidly on top of the beat.

Bluesy distorted bass and simple percussion kick off “Mercenary Territory”. Lush keyboards launch this song into orbit not long after it starts, and the lightly-processed vocals only add to the space rock aesthetic. By the time this song gets to its main groove, it has become strongly evocative of Elder. It’s got a stoner-y, desert vibe to it, but the musicianship and songwriting remains complex. Perhaps it’s the cattle skull on the album cover, but the instrumental elements of this song make me think of Western films.. Around the midpoint, a more complex, energetic riff becomes the focus, and the ensuing passage is a wonderful blend of stoner metal with Yes-style prog. The closing 30 seconds are downright gorgeous.

Another short song follows–the two-minute atmospheric bass experiment “Parastichy”–but it flows smoothly into the opening of “Cactus Rose”. This instrumental continues the smart blending of sludge and prog influences. Different musical themes are woven together artfully, and it makes for a thrilling ride. “Supergolden” has a massive atmosphere to it; it sounds like the backdrop to a magnificent revelation with lush keyboards and huge, post-metal walls of distorted guitar.

Deep Chrome’s longest song, the eleven-and-a-half-minute “See You at the End of the World” comes next. Gentle electric piano and cello open this song with the album’s mellowest moment yet. When the vocals eventually do come in, they emit a harsh growl. There are echoes of black metal here; Krallice in particular comes to mind with the tumbling drums. Momentum gradually builds to create a sense of drama. The cello is utilized smartly in the extended instrumental section, such that it’s noticeable but not overbearing. Despite these praises, though, the closing to this song does feel drawn-out, and the band could have tightened things up.

“Antimatter” is another slow-moving interlude, and this leads into the album closer, “Armitage”. A heavy-as-hell sludge riff opens this song, conveying a sense of impending doom. This song features more fantastic instrumental interplay, allowing both distorted riffs and sci-fi synths their turns in the spotlight.

Deep Chrome is a fantastic album. It’s not flawless, though. Some of those interludes feel unnecessary, and instrumental passages do occasionally go on for too long. But overall, the songs are impressive and enthralling. They’re packed full of twists and turns, and the momentum they generate helps this album feel shorter than it is.

Score: 90/100

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