Album Review: THE CLEARING PATH Watershed Between Firmament And The Realm Of Hyperborea
The Clearing Path is the side project of Summit mastermind Gabriele Gramaglia, both projects of course being put out on I, Voidhanger Records and make for some very interesting listening. This latest offering from The Clearing Path is just over half an hour of zoned out black metal beauty rushing over you in cosmic waves as you try and wrap your head around the beast that you have been exposed too and are attempting to understand. There is something beautifully twisted about Watershed Between Firmament And The Realm Of Hyperborea which serves to make it an album that you can't help but to sink your teeth into. With lush production and richly layered songwriting, getting to spend time with this record is a treat for the eardrums and navigating the ethereal sonic paths painted on these tracks is the sort of journey that no black metal fan should take lightly. The Clearing Path fascinates and castigates as you find yourself drowning in gorgeous black (and even post-black) metal absolution.
I think the balance of crazy old school dissonance with more contemporary ideas is a huge part of what makes this record so interesting. On top of that rather than using the keys to push for over the top bombast so typical of symphonic black metal it feels like The Clearing Path are much more comfortable using keys and synths as a padding for the music rather than pushing it to the fore. It means that the record has a vibe that is distinctly its own, informed just as much by traditional black metal maxims as it is by avant-garde explorations. The eerily dissonant guitars on tracks like "Stargazer Monolith" only serve to build on this impression, showing us that the deeper we delve into this world of twisted songwriting and experimental progressions the more madness we will find. The Clearing Path are the sort of black metal band who force you to ask questions of the genre and who remind us time and time again of the exotic new twists and turns this music has always been capable of making.
This is a record that expands on the boundaries of black metal and pushes some really interesting songwriting in a lot of really interesting ways. This is a record that forces you to come to terms with some of the darker aspects of the genre as well as the more out there ones, but it isn't especially challenging for the casual black metal fan to be able to dig in too. In fact it's an album which is pretty clearly digestible and one that you're going to find a lot of reason and ways to pick apart. If you can't fall in love with what is being unfurled before us here, with flashy guitar histrionics, progressive songwriting and the creation of an almost apocalyptic soundworld then maybe you never were meant to be into black metal in the first place. This is an album that looks back at the listener and allows you to find a sort of uncomfortable respite in its demented innards. Dig in.