"The Prodigal Empire" is the debut full-length studio album by US, Colerado, Denver based death metal act Vale of Pnath. The album was released through Willowtip Records in August 2011.
On "The Prodigal Empire", Vale of Pnath play technical death metal of the more refined kind. While the music is certainly brutal we´re not talking brutal technical death metal but rather technical (and sligthly progressive) death metal in the vein of Obscura, Beyond Creation, Augury and Abysmal Dawn. Lightning fast riffing with neo-classical leanings, insanely technical drumming and some pretty good growling/occasionally higher pitched sneering vocals. As such the music on "The Prodigal Empire" is not the most unique or original sounding technical death metal I´ve ever listened to, but it´s damn convincing in just about every other way possible. The musicianship is brilliant, the sound production is fat and powerful and the tracks are very well composed and feature both hooks, variation and jaw-dropping moments.
Had I known about the existence of "The Prodigal Empire" come end of the year 2011, this album would most definitely have made it unto my "top albums of the year list". This is one of those rare technical death metal releases where the technical playing is a means to an end rather than just mindless wankery or an excuse for not being able to write a memorable tune. These guys fully understand the importance of putting the song first and the playing second. To my ears "The Prodigal Empire" is a "must hear" for fans of the most refined part of the technical death metal genre and A 4 - 4.5 star (85%) rating is fully deserved.