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Forgotten Pathways - A Long Way Home (2015) - Review

Band: Forgotten Pathways
Album title: A Long Way Home
Release date: 14 July 2015
Label: Self-Released

01. Intro
02. Bury Me Under The Juniper Tree
03. The Evil Queen
04. Dornröschen Sleep
05. The Tomb Of A King
06. To New Shores
07. A Horses Head
08. The Forbidden Door
09. Her Frozen Palace
10. Cohort Of The Lost

Forgotten Pathways is Cedric Hommel. The self-financed and self-released A Long Way Home sounds very professional, and the attention to detail here is immediately obvious. A Long Way Home is a collection of tracks which are all loosely themed around German fairytales. This album seems like the perfect fit as background music to your next game of pen and paper Dungeons and Dragons. It is highly cinematic at times, and while it is dynamic, it is never demanding of your attention or distracting. It should not be passed off as a generic dark fantasy or dungeon synth album though, as there is true depth and thought put into this album.  It reaches into many genres pulling from them as it pleases, a bit of dark ambient influence here, a bit of medieval classical influence there. 

While the whole album is overall quite upbeat, the tracks can be highly varied, with some, like “Dornröschen Sleep”, taking on a more melancholic tone. In contrast “The Evil Queen”, while obviously a very dark theme, is quite a jubilant track, almost in worship of this queen rather than in fear of her.

A Long Way Home starts with “Intro” which is very simply the sound of someone walking and entering some doorway. This immediately leads us into “Bury Me Under The Juniper Tree” an upbeat medieval fantasy style track, based on the Brothers Grimm fairytale The Juniper Tree, in which a boy is murdered by his stepmother and ultimately exacts revenge upon her through the guise of a song bird. “The Evil Queen” depicts another Brothers Grimm fairytale of an evil stepmother, most notably represented in Disney’s Snow White. It is also a quite upbeat track considering the story represented. “Dornröschen Sleep” represents the tale of the Sleeping Beauty a story which can be traced back as far as the 1330s. This track is close to dark ambient at some points in its style yet keeps with the rhythmic and lively movement of the rest of the album. “The Tomb Of A King” seems like it would be the kind of music played in a medieval king’s court. It seems like more of a lively matter than an ode to the dead, leading me to believe that it could have been influenced by the Dungeons and Dragons campaign Tomb Of The Lizard King from 1982. “To New Shores” begins with a quite dark and melancholic feel and gradually progresses into a more symphonic and energetic piece by the end. This track seems to represent the Germanic people, during the Medieval Period crossing into new territories, as they filled the power vacuum left by the recently perished Roman Empire. The track takes us from the humble beginnings as an invading tribe to their ascension to rulers of new lands and the splendor that went along with such a feat. “A Horses Head” seems to continue in the theme of moving to distant shores, it has almost an Italian feel, which I can’t help but connect to the horse’s head scene in the first Godfather film. Starting off upbeat, the track becomes quite dark and foreboding, with some 80s horror-style synths faintly heard in the background before the energy rises building suspense, finally culminating in a downtempo ending, filled with the field recordings of rushing waters. “The Forbidden Door” is a quite foreboding track. We still hear the sounds of the water in the background as this track begins, along with an unnerving hammering drum line, which quickly fades into a more whimsical track. This track seems connected to the Grimm Brothers’ story of Fitcher’s Bird, in which a serial killer takes repeated would-be wives, telling them never to enter the forbidden door, all of them do and are killed for doing so, until the last and youngest of the three sisters finds and reassembles the bones of her kin, reanimating them, and ultimately they tell their family of the sinister man’s plots and take revenge upon him by burning his house down with him inside. “Her Frozen Palace” covers the last part of a fairytale by Hans Christian Andersen, named “The Snow Queen”. It is a quite chilling track with some of the few sections of distortion on the album presented here. The Snow Queen captures and enchants Kai through her troll-mirror, however the spell is broken by the love and tears of his lover Gerda who comes to save him, and crying over his dilapidated state, frees him from the spell of the sorceress. “Cohort Of The Lost” seems like an allusion to the notorious defeat of the Roman General Varus, when he took his legion into Germanic lands in 9 CE and was devastated and utterly defeated by the Germanic Tribes of the region in the battle of the Teutoburg Forest. An embarrassing and bloody defeat the first Roman emperor Augustus was haunted by until the day of his death.

I have attempted to take these tracks as literally as possible, but the beauty of A Long Way Home is that it can be enjoyed actively or passively. If you would like to dig deep into each track, there is plenty here to intrigue and ponder upon. I’m sure some of my assumptions about these tracks have been wrong, but that’s okay, each listener should take from the album whatever they please. As stated previously, this is the perfect background music to a night of Dungeons and Dragons, or even live action role-playing. It is subtle enough to not distract the listener yet dynamic enough to keep the avid listeners attention from beginning to end. Unlike other albums of this type, the generally lighthearted nature of A Long Way Home won’t alienate any listeners who aren’t used to hearing music outside of the popular sphere, yet it stays true to its dark and fantastical themes throughout.

Review written by: Michael
Rating: 8/10