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Pathfinders - Ares Vallis: Review

One of France's hottest metal prospects, Pathfinders debut album dropped April 16th and is a record that fans of bands such as Parkway Drive or In Flames should be excited about. Stitching together progressive groove, thrash, djent, and some seriously melodic tones, this twelve-track album is one hell of an introduction to their fascination with space exploration, specifically recent odysseys to Mars, the band name makes sense now right? Also, the album title Ares Vallis is named after an outflow channel on the red planet.

Forming in 2018 and consisting of the Gaucher brothers, Jérémy (Bass) and Romain (Guitar) alongside Jérémy Barthélémy (Drums), Benjamin Daguet (Guitar), and Clément Levy (Vocals) the bands sound is intense, engaging and fresh. This is a record I have to admit I have been looking forward to ever since hearing 'Damned Earth' ahead of release and I can safely say I am satisfied with the final product.

Despite being a relatively new band, once you start playing Ares Vallis there is a warm familiarity to it so deeply rooted in Groove Metal is their sound, however, at the same time the sound is different, it's a hard experience to describe but you feel like you know this band from the off and it's a delight to travel through all twelve tracks discovering what this band is capable of with their tight production sound, insane guitar work and far-reaching vocal ranges.

The energy on this record is high, it's punchy, heavy, grooves in all the right places and doesn't let up, constantly surprising and impressing as it progresses. Tracks such as 'Damned Earth', 'Precious Star' and 'Annihilate Them All', slap hard and are showcases of the band's unique style and depth of range. 'This Light' does switch things up a little and like a spacewalk, takes us to a dreamy soundscape rooted in Sci-fi but tethered to safe ground by a weighty bassline, a moment of pure atmosphere before leading to a roaring crescendo, returning the album to it's previous, consistent level of energy.

Not only is this a really strong debut from a band that can easily rise through the ranks of the metal scene but it's also one of the strongest records I've checked out so far this year, the bar is being set early as we work towards a post-covid world and I can only excitedly speculate at what the live circuits will look like in the near future, hopefully, Pathfinders will be right up there delivering this opus to large crowds and making a name for themselves.

Rating: 9/10