Threads Of Fate – A Funeral For The Virtuous – EP Review

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Artist: Threads Of Fate

Album Title: A Funeral For The Virtuous EP

Label: Independent Release

Date of Release: 23 November 2018

Every now and then, along comes a band or a new release that will force me to rethink my views and preferences in a certain area. Today, the release is a four-track EP and it has forced me to reconsider my general apathy of late to symphonic metal. The band in question is called Threads of Fate and their debut EP is entitled ‘A Funeral For The Virtuous’.

Regardless of whether the band is fronted by a male vocalist, female vocalist, a mix of the two or multiples thereof, I have grown rather disinterested by large swathes of symphonic metal bands. I find that, in general, they are too overblown, too light on the metal front, the melodies are too bland and uninteresting or the lyrics and imagery are too contrived and cheesy. Naturally, though, there are a few notable exemptions and Threads of Fate are easily one of these.

Threads of Fate is essentially a trio, comprised of vocalist John Pyres, guitarist Jack Kosto and keyboardist/bassist Vikram Shankar, he of Redemption fame as of this year. In addition, the band are joined by guest drummer Jake Dick. Together, I am left enthralled, entertained and thoroughly impressed. ‘A Funeral For The Virtuous’ is easily the best symphonic and cinematic release I’ve heard all year, even at just 23 minutes in length. It is wonderful for so many reasons.

All of the musicians play an equal part in creating such a compelling final product but I have to start with the keys of Vikram Shankar. Anyone who has heard his covers over social media of famous heavy metal songs on the piano, will know that this guy is an incredible talent. If Nick van Dyk (Redemption) and Tom Englund (Evergrey) say the same, you know you’re dealing with someone special. And so it transpires here, as Shankar bathes the four tracks on this EP with everything from swathes of subtle yet rich cinematic atmospherics, to delicate tinkling piano notes, to bold, all-encompassing orchestral manoeuvres. And he does it all with panache, style, elegance and a great deal of passion; everything has its place, everything is note perfect, sophisticated and completely engrossing.

I’m also a fan of John Pyres’ vocals, and the way that he is able to produce such a varied range of deliveries and in such a compelling manner, from quiet and introspective, right through to an extreme metal gruff growl.

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The thing that I find most appealing about this EP might sound strange, but it is the way in which it manages to rekindle some real vibes of the 90s whilst remaining current and relevant in 2018. I challenge anyone to deny the Gothic overtones within the music as well as the hints of mid-90’s Cradle of Filth and their symphonic black metal ilk.

The EP begins in a fashion that immediately made my eyes roll, thinking ‘not another symphonic clone’. However, within about 25 seconds, my mind is changed and I begin to think I was very wrong. The grandiose pomposity gives way to a lamenting lead guitar on top of a chunky riff, solid rhythm section and those giant, atmospheric keys. The song then almost dies, allowing Shankar’s delicate piano playing to be the sole sound before being joined by Pyres’ rich, melodious voice. He conveys genuine sadness, especially as he launches his vocals into a higher stratosphere effortlessly. The heaviness and the Michael Kamen-esque grandiosity returns, alongside some delicious growled vocals, all the while the central melodies continue to work their charm. I adore the change at the 3:20 mark that adds an even greater sense of the epic, segueing into a classic high-tempo and dexterous lead guitar solo that eventually returns to reprise the opening melodic lament. The song isn’t done as we’re treated to a finale complete with near blast-beats, opulent orchestration and a blend of growls and clean singing.

Follow-up ‘The Reaping’ is just as excellent, led from the outset by a string melody that is as catchy as hell and extremely beautiful, atop a well-constructed orchestral landscape with a metallic edge. Then the chunky, groovy and stomping guitar riffs enter the fray, alongside those gruff vocals. All of a sudden, the growls are ditched and Pyres reaches for the sky with his clean delivery, albeit laced with a gritty edge that takes away that overly saccharine edge.

I have to marvel at Shankar’s multi-faceted talents as his bass guitar is allowed to pierce the track and duet with his subtle piano notes. The song is arguably more ‘progressive’ in terms of its construction, flitting from section to section with aplomb, all the while held together through the sophisticated songwriting of the band, including pulse-racing guitar leads, flamboyant cinematics and a solid heavy metal foundation which I find is never far away.

‘Blackhearted Serenade’ on the other hand, thumps the listener between the ears with those overt Gothic-meets-black metal overtones. The start is deceptively gentle, a gorgeously solem piano. But then, all of a sudden, in thunders the ferocious blastbeats, lush theatrics and fast-picked tremelo riffs. This song transports me back to a halcyon time of extreme metal, underlined when the Gothic-tinged choral sounds accent the ferocity. Again, the song is underpinned by plenty of strong, memorable melody despite the more extreme metal trappings that toy with the melodeath genre as well as black metal. However, although Pyres returns to deliver more clean singing and there are moments within the song that nod strongly in the direction of folk and power metal, this has symphonic, orchestral black metal writ large across it. All that is, until the closing minute or so, which is a sumptuous piano serenade that just makes my point all over again about the talent of Vikram Shankar.

The final song on this EP is the title track. It is most definitely the most cinematic of all four tracks, with a touch of early Nightwish in the opening stages and then a full-on film score feel as it develops. There are a few very interesting synth sounds employed, not to mention a bombast that’s deeply impressive throughout as it weaves its way imperiously to a climactic finale truly fitting and entirely edifying.

I absolutely love ‘A Funeral For The Virtuous’ and the only reason this not in my year-end top five or ten is because it is not a full-length album. Don’t you hate self-imposed rules? Otherwise it would have been a dead cert. This is, for my tastes, the perfect blend of nostalgia, modern originality, pompous bombast, depth, emotion and gorgeous, sublime melody. I simply cannot wait to hear what comes next because it threatens to be very special indeed.

The Score of Much Metal: 9.25

If you’ve enjoyed this review, you can check out my others from 2018 and from previous years right here:

2017 reviews
2016 reviews
2015 reviews

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Divine Ascension – The Uncovering
Godless – Swarm
Universe Effects – Desolation
Kalidia – The Frozen Throne
Rikard Sjoblom’s Gungfly – Friendship
Ashes of Ares – Well of Souls
Veonity – Legend of the Starborn
Bloodbath – The Arrow Of Satan Is Drawn
Nochnoy Dozor – Nochnoy Dozor EP
Vola – Applause of a Distant Crowd
Lost In Thought – Renascence
Into Eternity – The Sirens
Fifth Angel – The Third Secret
Ashes of my Memory – Raptures /// Disillusions EP
Anathema – Internal Landscapes
Samskaras – Lithification
Seventh Dimension – The Corrupted Lullaby
Hate Eternal – Upon Desolate Sands
Witherfall – A Prelude To Sorrow
Northward – Northward
Seventh Wonder – Tiara
Warrel Dane – Shadow Work
Haken – Vector
Beyond Creation – Algorythm
Ultha – The Inextricable Wandering
Amaranthe – Helix
Ghost Ship Octavius – Delirium
Decembre Noir – Autumn Kings
The Odious Construct – Shrine of the Obscene
Fauna Timbre – Altering Echoes
The Moor – Jupiter’s Immigrants
Revocation – The Outer Ones
Riverside – Wasteland
Ethernity – The Human Race Extinction
Dynazty – Firesign
Deicide – Overtures of Blasphemy
Brainstorm – Midnight Ghost
Krisiun – Scourge of the Enthroned
Kingcrow – The Persistence
Cast The Stone – Empyrean Atrophy
Omnium Gatherum – The Burning Cold
Helion Prime – Terror of the Cybernetic Space Monster
Madder Mortem – Marrow
A Dying Planet – Facing The Incurable
Árstíðir – Nivalis
Mob Rules – Beast Reborn
The Spirit – Sounds From The Vortex
Aethereus – Absentia
Unanimated – Annihilation
Manticora – To Kill To Live To Kill
Rivers of Nihil – Where Owls Know My Name
Halcyon Way – Bloody But Unbowed
Michael Romeo – War Of The Worlds, Part 1
Redemption – Long Night’s Journey Into Day
Distorted Harmony – A Way Out
Tomorrow’s Eve – Mirror of Creation III – Project Ikaros
Atrocity – Okkult II
Lux Terminus – The Courage To Be
Kataklysm – Meditations
Marduk – Viktoria
Midas Fall – Evaporate
The Sea Within – The Sea Within
Haken – L-1VE
Follow The Cipher – Follow The Cipher
Spock’s Beard – Noise Floor
Ihsahn – Amr
The Fierce And The Dead – The Euphoric
Millennial Reign – The Great Divide
Subsignal – La Muerta
At The Gates – To Drink From The Night Itself
Dimmu Borgir – Eonian
Hekz – Invicta
Widow’s Peak – Graceless EP
Ivar Bjørnson and Einar Selvik – Hugsjá
Frequency Drift – Letters to Maro
Æpoch – Awakening Inception
Crematory – Oblivion
Wallachia – Monumental Heresy
Skeletal Remains – Devouring Mortality
MØL – Jord
Aesthesys – Achromata
Kamelot – The Shadow Theory
Barren Earth – A Complex of Cages
Memoriam – The Silent Vigil
Kino – Radio Voltaire
Borealis – The Offering
W.E.T. – Earthrage
Auri – Auri
Purest of Pain – Solipsis
Susperia – The Lyricist
Structural Disorder – …And The Cage Crumbles In the Final Scene
Necrophobic – Mark of the Necrogram
Divine Realm – Nordicity
Oceans of Slumber – The Banished Heart
Poem – Unique
Gleb Kolyadin – Gleb Kolyadin
Apathy Noir – Black Soil
Deathwhite – For A Black Tomorrow
Conjurer – Mire
Jukub Zytecki – Feather Bed/Ladder Head
Lione/Conti – Lione/Conti
Usurpress – Interregnum
Kælling – Lacuna
Vinide – Reveal
Armored Dawn – Barbarians In Black
Long Distance Calling – Boundless
In Vain – Currents
Harakiri For The Sky – Arson
Orphaned Land – Unsung Prophets And Dead Messiahs
Tribulation – Down Below
Machine Head – Catharsis
Bjorn Riis – Coming Home EP
Twilight’s Embrace – Penance EP
Bloodshot Dawn – Reanimation
Rise of Avernus – Eigengrau
Arch Echo – Arch Echo
Asenblut – Legenden
Bleeding Gods – Dodekathlon
Watain – Trident Wolf Eclipse

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