Viathyn - The Peregrine Way
Progressive Power / Folk Metal
10 songs (1:04:14)
Release year: 2010
Reviewed by Kyle
Surprise of the month

I won’t hesitate to admit that I was first drawn to The Peregrine Way by its fantastic cover art. Its infinitely stretching valley, painted in vivid colors and offering an incredible sense of scale, is the stuff that epic metal fans have wet dreams over. And the best part? It has a good soundtrack to accompany it. Viathyn is a new Canadian band that specializes in epic, progressive folk / power metal, and while their debut is fairly standard fare, it also offers a few moments of brilliance that hint at a bright future for the band.

One thing must be made note of straight away: Viathyn is an unsigned band, a fact that is unfortunately made clear when listening to The Peregrine Way. Guitars and drums lack a punch, vocals are average at best, and the production is a bit muddy all around (though an audible bass guitar is a definite plus). However, things could be a LOT worse considering that Viathyn is an independent band. Never will you hear the band unintentionally slow down because the drummer can’t keep pace with the rest of the group, and there are no baffling production gaffs. What you WILL hear are flowing, well-written songs, epic melodies, and tasteful progressive tendencies. There are keyboards here, but they are never overwhelming, which is a breath of fresh air. Bands that play this style of music often rely on the keyboardist to play folk melodies using artificial strings or horns. On The Peregrine Way, Viathyn manages to not fall victim to this trend by choosing to play every folk melody on lead electric guitar.

Well-written songs, clever instrumentation, and solid (and not overly flashy) musicianship – all of these things contribute to making The Peregrine Way a natural and heartfelt album, something sorely missing from many a progressive metal band. But by no means is Viathyn strictly a progressive band; with this album, they’ve found a perfect balance of progressive, power, and folk metal that fans of all three genres can love. The folk elements are what excites me most about this album, and the band is certainly not afraid to experiment with acoustic and even atmospheric moments. One song in particular, Canvas, is all-acoustic, which comes as a both surprise and a delight. Speed-heads need not worry, however; The Peregrine Way is quite fast from beginning to end.

If there were to be one particular flaw to point out with The Peregrine Way, it’s that it doesn’t so much as toy with breaking boundaries. While Viathyn may excel in creating songs filled with subtleties, they fail to grab one’s attention with fierce songwriting in the ways that Equilibrium or Ensiferum are praised for. Yet at the same time, Viathyn doesn’t require moments of bombast to really suck the listener end; The Peregrine Way blazes through an hour in an instant. After my first listen of it, I actually went back to find if some tracks had skipped on accident, yet all of the songs I returned to and skimmed over were familiar; in fact, I remembered most of them quite well. If that’s not a testament to Viathyn’s songwriting skills, then I’m not sure what is. One of the best folk metal debuts of the year (right behind Heljareyga’s initial self-titled outing), The Peregrine Way deserves attention and praise from the metal community. I expect HUGE things from this band in the future.

Killing Songs :
All (though Canvas deserves mention for being entirely acoustic)
Kyle quoted 85 / 100
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