German psychedelic rock n roll three piece from Freising, The Path Of Samsara like to keep their cards close to their chest. With a very helpful presser which simply read “Black Magic Rock and Roll from Germany”, the band can best be described as enigmatic. Without further ado, let’s see what it feels like to be touched by the fiery hand.
Straight off the bat is the title track “The Fiery Hand”. Its sinister sounding intro with synths, guitar and bass really helps build up the track and when it kicks in with a real punchy classic 70’s rock sound, akin to that of Blue Öyster Cult, it catches your attention right away. With that surreal/mystical approach to the composition and some big vocal and guitar moments, the composition is well put together with some great chord progressions and the intricate drum patterns under the lead guitar sections are mesmerizing. Full of energy despite being very laid back in the feel it gives, it’s a good opener and very hypnotic. “Veil Of God” keeps this theme going as it employs a gradual build up intro which progressively gets louder and heavier and once again, the heavier, punchier sounding classic rock feel returns with a real big sound yet again. More melodic with some chaotic moments to it, this track strays into stoner rock territory and keeps the momentum going.
“Serpent Magick” brings out another side of the band’s sound. This time it combines the mystical side of BÖC with the flair and grandeur of The Cult (Love era sound). With its clean intro which gradually swells in sound and intensity, the vocals have that Ian Astbury edge to them. All this track is missing is some gratuitous tambourine and excessive swagger. With an ‘out there’ vibe and a slow, hypnotic pace, the track finally kicks to life round the 2:40 mark where the distortion comes in, the drums get harder and feedback steadily grows before it overpowers the track, making it more dramatic and heavier. A slight departure from the classic rock feel but it works out well. “The Withered Tree” slows the pace down with a calm and nice sounding guitar melody and a steady rhythm. With a slow pace and laid back feel, it brings back that early BÖC sound, bringing back the dramatic aspect of the music once again. It gets a little more intricate as the track progresses which adds some character to the album and the eerie sounding hypnotic lead guitar lines really make this a relaxing track.
“Da Dout Reit Durch Wold” roughly translates to ‘doubt through the world’ and it opens up with a droning organ like effect with some drum fills which eventually gets more dramatic and heavier as it progresses. With some vocal diversity on display, going from what we have had on the album so far to a raspy whisper at times, the flair is dialled up on this track and it has a real dramatic edge to it. With clever use of volume and phrasing, the minimalistic approach is used to maximum effect and it gives a real dynamic sound. “The Blue Demon” goes in the opposite direction to the previous track. With an almost folk like acoustic intro layered in effects to give a real big spaced out sound, the stripped back vocal and guitar approach works well initially. Gradually building up, the distortion kick in brings some very Kyuss-like sounds with some bluesy twists to them but the acoustic still remains throughout the track, just barely audible over the distortion giving it a real bright edge. Vocally, it’s got that Ian Astbury swagger to it and a real stomping groove to it and it’s the kind of track which will grow on you the more you hear it.
“Pyredancer” has a bit more of a kick to it. The previous three tracks were more spaced out and relaxed, bringing atmosphere, but this one brings back the punchy classic rock feel. With a simple melodic hook to it and a more lively feel to it, it acts as a wakeup call, but it still has the laid back feel of the previous tracks, making it a bit samey at times. One thing though which does make it a little different is the interesting progressions used in combination with the vocal and guitar melodies to give a real unique sound. “The Dawn Of Saturn” keeps the punchy sound and more upbeat feel after its clean intro with some good sounding tone and lively vocal work. This time it has a sound more reminiscent of mid-late 70’s BÖC (Agents of Fortune era) and it really shows with the big sounding chorus and the lift up feel lead lines near the end of the track, helping get things back to a more rocky approach.
“Death Aeon Gateway” slows it down after the brief pick up in pace and despite the slower pace, it has a real kick to it with some raw sounding guitars giving a much needed kick in the important sections, but it sounds quite like the earlier tracks in the terms of the dynamics and arrangements. It does have some strong vocals in the chorus though and a real rocking groove round the 3:10 mark which leads to an improvement in the rhythm and lead as the track progresses, but it doesn’t really light anything up. “Supernova” is the obligatory epic. Clocking in round 10 minutes, it is the crown jewel of the album and there is good reason. It is the defining moment of the album, drawing from all the previous tracks and merging the styles and approaches together to create something great. Big sounding, lively, great tone and great guitar and bass hooks, it has some great build up moments and a real smooth flow to it – nothing seems out of place. With fantastic lead sections and a real big moment feel round the halfway mark, this track highlights just what this three piece are capable of and the best thing I can say is just listen to it!
Closing the album is the spooky sounding “Wood And Bone” which brings back the eeriness and dramatic flair for one last hurrah. With plenty of bravado in the vocals and cutting instruments, it has some great build up moments and clever uses of dynamics, switching from clean to harsh at an instant and some real poundingly heavy moments in the choruses. It’s a good track and has a real intensity to it which augments its dark feel and it ends the album rather well.
Overall, “The Fiery Hand” is a mixed bag. It starts off solid then weakens a little in the middle before ending on a high. The right mix of classic rock and grandeur helps create some impressive sonic landscapes to get lost in, but this band excels the most in that BÖC stomping rock groove meets the flair of Love Era Cult. Melodic, rocking and a law unto themselves, The Path Of Samsara prove that sometimes the music does more than a press blurb every could in explaining a band’s sound