Artist: Threads Of Fate
Album Title: The Cold Embrace Of The Light
Label: Layered Reality Productions
Date of Release: 11 March 2022
Back in 2018, I reviewed the debut EP from an outfit called Threads Of Fate. Of that EP, I wrote the following:
“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.”
Fast forward four years and this quote is being used on the press release for Threads Of Fate’s debut full-length. I feel honoured. But more importantly, I’m eager to find out whether my words have rung true, or whether the EP was just a flash in the pan. Clearly, I’m praying for the former, but you just never know, do you?
Except, in this case, I was fairly certain if I’m honest, and so it has transpired. The EP, ‘A Funeral For The Virtuous’ was too good and with an unchanged core line-up for the eventual follow-up, ‘The Cold Embrace Of The Light’ was very unlikely to be a dud. Especially when the three main protagonists consist of Jon Pyres (vocals, lyrics, additional keys), Jack Kosto (guitars, recording, production), and Vikram Shankar (keyboards, orchestrations, bass). Kosto will be familiar to fans of the band Seven Spires who released an immense album last year entitled ‘Gods Of Debauchery’, whilst Pyres is linked with Among The Giants and Spawn Of Thirteen. And then there’s Vikram Shankar, the multi-instrumentalist who is a member of Redemption and Lux Terminus as well as being one half of the glorious Silent Skies. If you’re wanting a stamp of quality, you’ve got it.
Musically, Threads Of Fate pick up where they left off four years ago on ‘A Funeral For The Virtuous’. And that’s because ‘The Cold Embrace Of The Light’ is another sublime collection of symphonic heavy metal that’s wonderfully melodic, bombastic, multi-layered, and carries with it a genuine emotional depth. But unless my ears deceive me, the trio, ably assisted by session drummer Chris Dovas, have pushed their sound a little further in certain directions. For example, I get the distinct impression that there is a slightly more pronounced progressive element to some of the music, meaning that I hear more variety on the album than I was perhaps expecting. And at around 50 minutes, it is the ideal length to give listeners value without outstaying their welcome.
The first track of this new record is one of the most stunning pieces of music I’ve heard in 2022 so far. It begins with the unmistakeably delicate piano playing from Shankar, who brings me near to tears with a sumptuous melody that’s gradually built upon with drums and rich orchestration before the song explodes with power and emotion, a tortured gruff scream from Pyres piercing a magnificently bittersweet outpouring of metallic beauty. Lead guitars wail and the orchestration increases in intensity to bring the all-too-quick intro piece to a close.
But never fear, because there is more where that came from, as immediate successor ‘Moonrise’ eloquently proves. From the opening drum roll to the tinkling keys, urgent riffing, pounding beat of the drums and bombastic orchestration, Threads Of Fate will delight anyone who enjoys the likes of Nightwish, Epica, and even Seven Spires among many others. In fact, there are one or two unavoidable echoes to the latter given Kosto’s involvement. But if anything, Threads Of Fate are even more melodic, and arguably more emotional, led in part by the expressive clean signing of Pyres who really does put his heart and soul into his performance. Then again, when the band seek to explore the themes of death and decay through their compositions, it’s hardly surprising that the music is an emotional beast. However, I also love the smoothness of this song; it is bold, cinematic, and bombastic, but it’s also really elegant too. Multi-layered and deep it may be, but nothing is out of place, demonstrating the meticulous attention to detail that Threads Of Fate possess.
Much the same could be said for ‘A Ghostly Portrait’ within which there’s a piano melody that may just have broken my heart into tiny pieces, such is its simple, delicate beauty. The gruff vocals of Pyres are well-placed but when he switches to his clean delivery, this song is possibly the most moving of them all; an imploring tone emerges that’s then replaced by a similar feeling within the ensuing lead guitar solo. I also love the pronounced use of light and shade that features, creating an irresistible ebb and flow of emotion from beginning to end.
‘The Horrors Within’ is a prime example of the more progressive nature of the band that I spoke about earlier. It starts out serenely enough before the orchestration takes a dark, menacing turn. The intensity ratchets up and out come the growls from Pyres to underline this heavier, more aggressive approach. From there, the band take great delight in pulling us in all kinds of directions across the length of the nine-minute composition. Extreme metal aggression, Gothic opulence, majestic melody, an abundance of light and shade; it all features to great effect, creating a truly captivating listening experience. There’s even room for a dose of 70s inspired prog thanks to a bold synth effect, and an almost tribal section led by the rhythmic pounding of drums, just to mix things up a little, keeping us on our toes.
Threads Of Fate then offer ‘Against The Shores Of Le Monde’, a veritable anthem thanks to the impossibly grandiose and melodic chorus nestled within. But this doesn’t mean that a few savage growls can’t feature, or that the music can’t take on relatively quiet, minimalistic path when the mood dictates. If anything, the gentler sections only enhance the impact of the chorus and its glorious melodies.
The title track features the intriguing blend of the most savage growls on ‘The Cold Embrace Of The Light’ accompanied by some of the slowest, most delicate sounds to appear. Almost dreamlike in feel, the song wraps you in a warm embrace, but one that you feel could crush the life out of you at any moment. ‘Love Held Hands With Hatred’ by contrast, picks up the pace significantly to create a vibrant and cinematic experience that contains plenty of extreme metal aggression, yet superbly tempered by an ultimately positive vibe, that projects a sense of hope through the stunning closing crescendo that is dominated by yet more thunderous drumming, guitars that sing to the sky, and orchestration that
In what feels like the blink of an eye, I am faced with the tender, heartfelt, and soothing sounds of the closing composition, ‘Ashes’. The guitars and drums have already been packed away, allowing Pyres and Shankar to bring things to an end in a very poignant manner, the perfect way to complete the album. In a house dominated by my two daughters and a female dog, I am almost never right, so I shall take comfort in the fact that when it came to Threads Of Fate, I was bang on the money. I sensed that their debut album would be something special, and I was 100% correct. If all symphonic metal sounded like ‘The Cold Embrace Of The Light’, then there’s every chance that it would be my favourite genre of heavy music. Intelligent, emotional, properly heavy, and with melodic sensibilities to die for, it is impossible not to fall for the considerable charms of Threads Of Fate. I have. And within a couple of spins through, so will you.
The Score of Much Metal: 94%
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