Album Review – 4ARM / Pathway to Oblivion (2023)

One of the best groups of the modern Groove and Thrash Metal scene is finally back after almost eight years with a new album, offering us all 43 minutes of incendiary, top-of-the-line heavy music.

Recorded at Cobra Island Studios in Chicago, Illinois, in the United States and at Scarred Studio in Melbourne, Victoria, in Australia, produced by vocalist, guitarist and bassist Markus Johansson and drummer Michael Vafiotis, mixed and mastered by Christian Donaldson, and displaying a sinister artwork by Colin Marks of Rain Song Design, the excellent Pathway to Oblivion, the brand new opus by Groove/Thrash Metal outfit 4ARM, represents a beyond welcome return to action by such amazing Australian/American band, more precisely eight years after the release of their also thrilling album Survivalist. Now a duo formed of the aforementioned Markus and Michael, 4ARM will explode our senses with their newborn opus, offering us all 43 minutes of top-of-the-line modern heavy music that will undoubtedly put the band back on track after so many years in a silent limbo.

A serene and atmospheric intro will soothe your souls before the duo comes ripping with their incendiary sounds in Stigmata, with Markus kicking ass with his Godsmack/Metallica-inspired vocals and shredding guitars while Michael crushes his drums mercilessly. Activator is another fantastic Groove and Thrash Metal extravaganza by 4ARM that will inspire you to slam into the circle pit like a maniac, with Markus once again firing electrifying riffs and solos for our total delight, and it’s pedal to the metal as Markus and Michael keep decimating our ears with their modern-day thrashing sounds in Born to a Dying World, with Michael’s performance behind his drums being yet again impressive, adding tons of groove and rage to the song. Then we have Nothing Comes From Nothing, another fast and furious creation by 4ARM that will boil your blood due to its heaviness and speed, with Markus delivering more of his trademark raspy vocals in great fashion.

The title-track Pathway to Oblivion begins in a more melancholic, darker manner to Markus’ introspective vocals before evolving into a multi-layered Groove Metal feast led by Markus’ unstoppable riffage and striking solos; whereas the duo shows no mercy for our necks and souls in the infuriated Thrash Metal tune Headhunter, sounding and feeling heavy and intense from start to finish with Michael hammering his drums like there’s no tomorrow. Their second to last sonic attack comes in the form of Snake in the Grass, a more cadenced, headbanging song where Michael dictates the pace with his galloping drums supported of course by the slashing riffs by Markus; and like a battering ram the duo will destroy everything and everyone that crosses their path in the closing tune Gutterfeeder, a lecture in modern-day Thrash Metal that will leave the listener eager for more of their music. Needless to say, Michael is flawless with his thunderous beats.

It’s a great pleasure to see 4ARM back into the battlefield after so many years with Pathway to Oblivion (which is by the way available in full on YouTube and on Spotify), and of course that’s even better thanks to the superior quality of the music found throughout the entire album. Hence, in order to show the duo all your support and admiration, and in order to welcome them back to the current metal scene, you can start following them on Facebook and stay updated on everything surrounding such awesome band, subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their incendiary music, and obviously purchase Pathway to Oblivion from their BandCamp page. I’m sure Markus and Michael won’t take a decade to deliver another 4ARM album as it definitely feels they’re back for good, and if they keep releasing great material like Survivalist and now Pathway to Oblivion we can rest assured the fires of the modern thrash scene will continue to burn majestically.

Best moments of the album: Stigmata, Activator, Headhunter and Gutterfeeder.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2023 Independent

Track listing
1. Stigmata 5:43
2. Activator 5:36
3. Born to a Dying World 5:40
4. Nothing Comes From Nothing 4:39
5. Pathway to Oblivion 6:42
6. Headhunter 4:50
7. Snake in the Grass 4:51
8. Gutterfeeder 5:00

Band members
Markus Johansson – vocals, guitars, bass
Michael Vafiotis – drums


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