Sympathy - Arcane Path

Fear Dark Records


I'm not going to go into the story about why it's taken so long to get this review of Sympathy's new album posted.  What's important here is how in the world was Sympathy going to improve upon their previous album Invocation.  What seems like an impossible task has become a definite reality for this Canadian-turned-Arizonan-one-man-band. 
The biggest thing that one will notice with this new album Arcane Path is the much improved production.  We are still not at perfection, but this is leaps and bounds above Invocation.  And although Derek From still uses a drum machine, this is easily one of the best drum machine-used bands you will ever hear.  It really doesn't detract at all from the overall experience.  Sympathy also recruited the talents of Tim Roth and Rob Doherty of Into Eternity to play lead guitars on three different songs.  Any of you out there that are familar with Into Eternity know that this is a big positive. 
Musically, From takes a very similar approach to Invocation with his extremely aggressive brand of technical death metal.  Only on Arcane Path he seems to take it up another notch.  The music is even more lethally heavy, faster, and more extreme.  With blasting galore, grinding and brutal guitars, and just plain sickening growled vocals...Sympathy continues to rage upon even the most expecting of listeners.
If you were a fan of Sympathy's last album, it's absolutely certain that you will fall in love with this album.  Sympathy continues to forge the path that was originally taken and have set themselves up as one of the most extreme bands out there.  One can only fantasize about how far Derek From can take this band.  Faster?  Heavier?  More and more brutal and extreme?  My guess is yes to all of the above.
Lyrically on this disc, From does another fantastic job.  On "The Shining Ones" the lyrics speak of angels.  Now, I for one am not too fond of all the obsession with angels out there in the world and how people place more emphasis on them than God.  Well, From definitely does not take that approach, but what he does do is paint a fantastic picture of the messengers of our Lord.  Here's an example:  "Hordes/of fiery creatures/of ancient beings/that eyes can't see/droves/of mighty warriors/Almighty's agents/defend the chosen/hosts/of divine legions/the dread armies/serve my Master/swarms/surrounding me/upholding me/protecting me."
Another song that is fabulously written is the fifth track "In My Own Image".  The lyrics speak of man "making God is his own image" instead of the other way around.  They state..."God is my will's extrusion/It is I who has created Him/And my will shall be done/Should I not worship Him/ and so honor myself?  And when I bow/I praise the one/to whom I give/life....The substance of my faith is grounded in desire/The essence of my faith is the form of myself...I adorn myself with jewels/with gold and finery/clothe myself in purple/I raise myself an altar/petition my desires/There is no god unless I am he."  Fantastic stuff!!!
"Love Me and Despair" which may be my favorite track on the album speaks of the deception of Satan.  Musically it does some cool trade offs midway through the song, switching back and forth between crunchy headbanging riffs and cool keyboards with distorted vocals over the top. 
Two things that didn't seem to fit well on this disc were the opening "Introduction" and the intro to the song "Surrounded by the Dead".  Both of these pieces sound great and I really like them, but they don't seem to flow well into the songs that follow.  I think it would've sounded better had From figured a way to incorporate these pieces but merging them into the following songs better. 
The album ends with a re-recorded version of "Realm of Disease" off of Invocation.  Keeping with the quality of Arcane Path, this song sounds more powerful and much improved over the original version.
And finally, the artwork and packaging are top notch.  The art was done by the famous Kris Verwimp.
Fear Dark Records has a fantastic talent in Sympathy.  They would do well to push this band wherever possible, cause anyone into great extreme metal should eat this up in a heartbeat.  (Review by Matt)