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Review: Parthian Shot – Promises

by Miloš Šebalj

 

Parthian Shot – Promises

1. Promises
2. Prey
3. Overcast
4. Devil’s Kiss
5. Jaded
6. For Me
7. Birthplace
8. Nothing for a Friend
9. Guilty of a Dream

Label: Self released
Date: January 29, 2020

I hate to bring this up time and again. Official website is mentioned but doesn’t exist. A page on Facebook does exist, but the band biography ends in 2013. Yes, seven years ago! Parthian Shot are present on Bandcamp as well, offering little to no information at all. Promotional material, sent over e-mail, even contains a whole file with the link to a lyric video, but no information on the band.

So, Parthian Shot is a 17 year old six-piece (six-shot?) from Greece with two demos and an EP released before their official biography ended. Nice job on not pissing the reviewer off at the very start of what you might hope will be a positive review.

OK, the obvious answer by Parthian Shot would be: “We wanted to let music do the talking”. Sure, let’s try that. But I am still holding a grudge.

Let me get something out of the way, right at the beginning. As expected from a progressive metal act, these guys are top-notch musicians. The usual problem with musicians overly focused on technique is that they rarely get to prove themselves as composers. That is the one thing that I don’t like about the genre in general. Hence, as I’m far from a fan of this type of metal, I will most definitely not complement your instrumental skills.

It is clear that the Greeks have studied their history well. Not Greek history (though I can’t judge on that) but the history of progressive metal. A lot of lessons taught by the most prominent names of the genre are applied to “Promises”. I am mostly referring to North American progressive masters. Though the introduction to the record brings instant connotation to Pink Floyd, the rest is deeply rooted in the legacy of Dream Theater or Symphony X. Even some later Savatage moments are audible, though few and far between.

Mastery of arranging seems to constantly evade Parthian Shot, so that most of the tracks have some very unnatural switches within. That’s where the instrumentation gets its complete freedom to wander around. Mostly to no discernible end, as is usual. At that point, the attention of the listener can easily roam far away. The opening (and title) track shows this perfectly. While the main theme of this eleven minute epic would easily fit on “Images and Words”, the point is lost in the middle section of the song.

On the other hand, there are a couple of songs that retain a certain flow throughout. These are much more straight forward and easier to digest. “Birthplace” is a ballad that goes along those lines. “Nothing for a Friend” is another good example.

Regarding the aesthetics of the genre, Parthian Shot goes for the modern outtake. I’m not just talking about the vocal approach. Vocals do play a decent role and the fact that they do not strive for unnecessary, unreachable heights is a big plus for the record in total. The voice of Parthian Shot is strong in its delivery, both emotionally and physically. The modern part of “Promises” lies in contemporary production work that makes the album mush deeper sounding. Also, the rhythm section sets much more concrete foundation to the overall feel which could make the album more acceptable to the younger fan base. Fragments of “Prey” and “Overcast” even pack a high amount of groove that should appeal to fans of nu metal.

I’m not quite sure what passes for a good progressive album these days. My taste in progressive metal mostly lies on the legacy of the ‘90s. I can only convey my thoughts that this is a rather average record. Everything is delivered in an audio package that should fit the tastes of those who swallow this kind of music without any consideration. Parthian Shot might become their new favorites, but they could easily wind up on the “heard it all before” pile. And, you will agree, that is the greatest insult a progressive band can get. Try it yourselves and decide. This was certainly not meant for me.

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