REVIEW: CHRISTIAN MUENZNER – “Path Of The Hero”
Christian Münzner is one of a kind, and not in a loose way of the expression. Having been diagnosed with focal dystonia, which is brutally impairing to a guitar player, he almost left the metal world after his departure from Obscura; and yet, he keeps on shredding everything in his path as a big f*%k you to the disease. ‘Path of the Hero’, despite being another instrumental album in his solo career, has fitting sound and title to tell his story.
This album, though, goes beyond the simple display of skill, having clear distinctions between songs, several nuances and a respectable sense of humility. Don’t get me wrong, there is the eventual “guitar on fire” shredding and lots of double pedals to accompany those, but the melodies and elements serve a musical purpose.
Songs like “Blades of the Brotherhood” and “Wing Commander” are typical progressive tracks full of scales and tempo breaks that will make your inner Steve Vai happy, but passages like “Deep Space #11” bring a lot more to the table such as jazz and blues. As I said above, Münzner sacrifices ego to prioritize the music itself, without sounding pretentious or ostentatious.
Keyboard and bass lines are his best friends, providing good background instrumental to his guitar playing. There are moments, of course, where the main instrument takes over the spotlight, mainly in “Knight Rider” and “Nocturne” – the latter is an arrangement based on Franz Liszt’s “Liebestraum No. 3” – but it’s often that every piece is equally important to the mix, as “Discovery” or the title track illustrate.
Münzner also successfully separates the laid backtracks from the denser ones. “Marchers of Valhalla”, for instance, is a more melodic choice to cool things off which seems to have been taken out of Stratovarius’ ‘Visions’, while powerful blasts in “Demon Angel” reminds us of the American way of playing. Either way, the German prolific manages to insert some sort of personality to all his efforts, a hard task when dealing with songs with no lyrics.
At the end of the day, though, this IS an album with zero lyrics, so it’s definitely not for everyone. The hooks are great and there is a clear sense of melody, but the record is orphan to any sort of climax and it can be tiresome for casual listeners. It was definitely not meant to captivate a large chunk of the metal community or be a radio-friendly work, so the lack of lyrics probably won’t be a problem to those who listen to it. Nevertheless, it’s an acquired taste.
‘Path of the Hero’ is almost entirely an amalgam of elements used in Obscura, Alkaloid and Eternity’s End with a bit more attention to the power metal side of things. It’s usually very hard to rate an instrumental album because it’s always a wanker fest, but Christian Münzner proves once again to be an exception. Sober leads and properly-timed solos help the guitar virtuoso achieve his goal in creating a creative piece of work, even if it’s not as memorable as intended. Recommended.