Fifth Element is the second album by Polish power metal act Pathfinder. Since their debut Beyond the Space Beyond the Time (2010) the band has parted ways with drummer Kamil Ruth, with Fifth Element seeing the debut of Kacper Stachowiak. The rest of the group’s line-up remains unchanged. Fifth Element also features a trio of guest vocalists: Konstantin Naumenko (Sunrise, Majesty of Revival), Elen (Selaterion) and Agata Lejba-Migdalska, who also performed on the debut.
I recall Pathfinder being mentioned in the metal circles I’m a part of a fair bit when they released their debut but for reasons unknown to me the band never quite made it onto my radar, which makes Fifth Element my introduction to the band. They play power metal, a brand of which is both progressive and symphonic, and with the use of occasional black metal growling and female operatic vocals, they create one of the most epic power metal sounds going on Fifth Element. Pathfinder is definitely a case where introducing growled vocals into their power metal sound doesn’t come across as a pathetic attempt to introduce some extremity to the music, but rather they add even more to the already epic sound that the band has going for them, working in great contrast to the operatic singing and with main vocalist Szymon Kostro providing an excellent performance Fifth Element sounds powerful indeed.
On the other hand however, the music is some of the most cheesy sounding power metal I’ve ever come across. I suppose that’s kind of what makes Pathfinder what they are, but the amount of times the band sings about metal itself is something of a turn off for the rest of the album despite the obvious strengths of the performance. While I definitely share the sentiments about metal being eternal and all that stuff, after some time it does begin to feel that the band are obsessive with that notion, which often makes their lyrics seem one-dimensional and again, cheesy as hell.
All the same it’s difficult to not like the album. Musically Fifth Element is very much top grade power metal, but its main issue is that it’s just so over the top that I don’t think it will be an album that anyone who isn’t a power metal connoisseur will be able to stomach very often. They just need to work on their lyrics some, because there is too much repetition, not only with the amount of times they use metal as a topic, but also because of the amount of times they use the ‘beyond the space, beyond the time’ line, the title of their first album. I’m not sure if Pathfinder’s albums share any sort of a concept story, but even if they do lyrically Fifth Element certainly comes across as milking the cow for all its worth.
I may have my quibbles with it but I can’t deny that Fifth Element is a very epic power metal album and that it’s a pretty great release from Pathfinder. There is definite room for improvement for the album to hold a wide lasting appeal, but for the power metal connoisseur there isn’t much to moan about. So despite a few misgivings a great album rating is deserved.
(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven (http://metaltube.freeforums.org))