Finding the Right Path
As the second full-length release from the Oakland doom metal quintet, Pathway, builds from its short intro to its first real song, “Three Swords,” there’s a precipitous and anxious feeling that comes over you. Vocalist Garett Gazay spent more time screaming and growling than anything else on previous recordings, so the haunting, controlled and effective singing he manages is impressive and encouraging. The quiet music becomes less so, and his vocals follow suit, gradually increasing in volume. But at the three-minute mark, the screams come and they stay, and the impression is that the band was not quite ready to challenge itself.
The distinguishing feature of Secrets of the Sky is their ability to combine low-and-slow gloom metal with gothic elements as well as high-energy extreme-metal-style vocals. While it helps set the band apart, it grows tiresome after a few songs. That sound dominates the remainder of “Three Swords,” but the whisper-singing returns on the next full track, “Angel in Vines,” only again to be replaced by the shouting. (Several of the songs are separated by two to three minute sound effect interludes titled “I” through “VII”; they are inconsequential to this review but are mentioned for the sake of completeness.)
“Another Light” starts and stays mellow, and it showcases what Secrets in the Sky is capable of — creating and maintaining mood with a sense of urgency and uncertainty. That’s not to say that this band should become an acoustic folk band; far from it. But if their strength lies in what they can do when they ease the music from three to seven, then they are doing themselves a disservice by jumping to eight and nine and staying there. That’s what they do for the balance of Pathway, and the end result is that of an inventor who is on the verge of a breakthrough but lacks the confidence to take the next step.