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Following what was arguably a brief period of lineup stability with Matti Way at the vocal helm, Pathology found themselves at a crossroads of sorts in 2011 when it came time to fulfill their continuing yearly obligation of new studio LP in 2011. The advent of Jon Huber's entry into the band might have suggested a move towards a style that was closer to the deathcore trappings of his former act I Declare War, but thankfully what came about was something a bit less slavish to the usual trappings of said style. Granted, there are some occasional points where the slamming elements of the brutality that is Pathology's fifth LP Awaken To The Suffering that maybe hint at something resembling the better aspects of deathcore, this album is still largely in line with the sort of multifaceted and occasionally technical brutality that the band inherited from 90s outfits like Dying Fetus and Suffocation and continued to distill into a more compact formula.
All that being said, the notion of stylistic progression is definitely present on here, arguably more so than the two previous albums where this band had just began to move away from the cliches of mid-2000s gratuitous gore and savagery. The lyrical subjects are now largely focused on a sort of cynical political commentary that largely revolves around conspiracy theory, with perhaps the exception of "Emesis", which is a reworking of a song off the transitional Age Of Onset album that first introduced Way to the Pathology family. In keeping with this, the music has begun to take on the sort of mechanistic, futuristic feel that has since become Pathology's staple sound, in no small part due to the increasingly processed character of the guitars and drums, and occasional stints of flashy lead guitar work, which at this juncture are still employed a bit sparingly by Kevin Schwartz, but is beginning to flirt more and more with the John Gallagher mode of flash that became standard on all of this band's subsequent outings.
The chief thing that separates this album from the rest of this band's rapidly growing discography, and further feeds into its transitional nature, is the somewhat unevenness that it exhibits as a whole. Opting to hit the ground with a thudding groove rather than a brief symphonic keyboard intro, "Dissected By Righteousness" begins with a chugging set of grooves and hyper-exaggerated gurgles that actually scream cliche slam death for the time, though they are chased with some faster and more frenzied material on occasion, reaching its zenith during the shred happy lead fest towards the end. The next couple of songs are a bit more advanced in frequency of riff work, but generally there is a greater degree of emphasis on groove and punch that permeates the entire first half of the album, with occasional lead work spicing things up in the case of "Media Consumption" and a little bit of melodic work on the chugging instrumental ditty "Prolonging The Suffering". Following the half-way point, things get noticeably more frenetic and brutal, with "Humanity's Cesspool" crossing over into overt tech. death territory with a slightly blackened edge at times, and "Festering In Filth" all but reverting back to the insanity of mid-90s Cryptopsy at times.
On the one hand, Awaken To The Suffering runs into problems to a certain degree due to its transitional nature, coming off a bit uneven in terms of pacing and having vocal work out of Huber that is both impressive yet slightly overdone at times. Obvious comparison's to Lord Worm's schizophrenic vocalizations during the None So Vile days are warranted, though this album doesn't hang on technical flash and sheer speed quite as much. Then again, part of this album's charm is in its sense of unevenness, as it doesn't fully commit to being fully technical nor fully simplistic, and finds a rather unique middle ground between the two, in spite of sounding like two EPs put together when listened to from start to finish. Things got slightly more consistent on The Time Of Great Purification, but this gets pretty close to the same level of quality brutality and should be about as welcome to the ears of anyone who encountered said album first. Don't let Huber's connection to the deathcore scene be dissuading , this is definitely as geared to Pathology's core audience as any of their other offerings.
Pathology came onto the scene mid 2000s and originally performing to what sounded like a brutal death metal/deathgrind sound before going for straight brutal death in a similar equality to what can be compared to the likes of Guttural Secrete, just a big slower. Settling over numerous vocalist changes throughout their career, the band finally became familiarized with Jonathan Huber after he sent in an audition video to the band. Huber is best noted for his vocal work in the deathcore band I Declare War. Huber was the band's sixth vocalist so far in this band. I kid you not, he was the sixth singer they've settled on throughout the forefront of mix and matching singers to gurgling away at the top of the action they would do whilst performing their music.
While Huber's vocal style doesn't even come close to resembling what he did years ago in deathcore (it doesn't even sound like the same guy), his vocals reach to such a point of ridiculousness on this release almost to a point that the songs ending up sounding almost instrumental as a result due to them not reaching an aspect of almost humanistic vocalization standards. If you heard one song off this record, you'd understand and I'm not saying that's a bad thing, just implying that he's an absolute beast.
It just doesn't just stop at the vocals either on this release, I feel like because of Huber's induction into the band, Pathology inducted a par bit of deathcore influence for this particular album due to Huber's highly involved deathcore background in his past. Breakdown chugs, sub-par melodic moments and tremolo picking is present here as it wasn't in previous releases. It's just like how when influential slam vocalist Matti Way was part of Pathology, more slams were noted to be present in Pathology's sound than anything heard previous. Pathology is not a slam band but they can incorporate the slamming maneuver when they want just to add a weapon to their audial assault which can also include solos, breakdowns, bends and blast beat outburst moments, which are all also available on this album.
While the songs grow tiresome as it leads on past a few tracks too many, the release sounds fresh by the first couple songs providing very heavy audial impact and insane gurgled vocals with an average drum performance to boot. Recommended to definitely check out this release as it's probably one of Pathology's most interesting to date.
When brutal death metal royalty Matti Way left Pathology, he was replaced by the most unlikely candidate imaginable. Jon Huber, of I Declare War fame. If you're unfamiliar with I Declare War, they're a deathcore band, and a terrible one at that. So to replace the legendary Matti Way, Pathology brought in a deathcore vocalist? I'm sure it's not just me that was skeptical. However, all possible thoughts you might have about this band becoming the latest band to crossover into deathcore and "sell out" are wrong.
Their last outing, Legacy of the Ancients was a very mediocre and unspectacular album. No standout tracks, or even moments. This album is the exact opposite. There are several memorable songs. Tons of technical solos, crushing groovy riffs, pounding slams, machine gun double bass and guttural grunts and pitch shifted gurgles from Huber. There is also an odd choice for an outro. An acoustic instrumental, in brutal death metal. It's probably been done before, but it's still quite strange to hear, despite being a welcome change to the brutal music that played for 11 tracks before it.
Production, as one would expect from a label like Victory, is very clear, with every instrument being heard clearly (even the bass, always a good thing). Don't confuse this for an ultra-mainstream album that fans of Slipknot will be buying. This is still very brutal, catchy death metal.
Highlights: Society's Desolation, Dissected by Righteousness, Humanity's Cesspool,
Although I grew up in the hay-day of brutal death Metal, I was never a fan of slam death Metal. I preferred the blast-heavy, guttural machinations that Deeds of Flesh and Krisiun spewed out than the chunky, snail paced gurggle non-sense of Devourment. There have been a few exceptions: the Space-Slam-Jazz-Grind of Wormed is nothing short of perfect, and technical slam acts like Embryonic Devourment and Dripping have been good. But bands like Cephalotripsy, Katalepsy and Abominable Puridity do very little for me, and at its worst(Waking the Cadaver) it crosses over into War Crime territory.
Patholgy, a younger band who are coming in during the old school death metal resurgence(they released their first LP in 2006, near the end of brutal and technical death metal's reign over death metal as a whole), are intriguing though. Although firmly rooted in the realm of slam death metal, Pathology do some cool things: melodic and technical riffs pop in from time to time, and the band write riffs with meat on the bones, while the vocals have actually power, unlike many inhale vocals that sound pathetic and wimpy. These slam butchers are not the light squishing of bowels, but closer to a chainsaw slicing through a torso. They may still hem to closely to slam death for me to ever love them, in small doses Pathology deliver more than most slam acts not named Wormed.
Awaken the Suffering is another rock solid release from the band, and by now they have mastered their sound: tech death riffing with a heavy dose of chunky breakdowns and the occasional moment of melody. There has been very little deviation from this sound over the bands 5 LP's(and impressive number in 5 years). And it works: this is far from the finest composition or most masterful stroke of genius, but in the right situation, Pathology hit hard and with purpose. The production is thoroughly modern: the click click click of drum triggers, the silky smooth guitar tones and the perfectly pitch shifted(slightly, thankfully) vocals are all present, but at least the bass is audible, a nice plus. It is still over-produced, but at least not maddeningly song.
Haters need to apply: there is nothing for die-hard haters of slam death, who at the very possibility that a breakdown MIGHT have been played will instantly begin bashing and bashing until they are blue in the face. Pathology might play this style with more authority, talent and song writing skill than most, this is Slam Fucking Death, and it offers few compromises.
I was plenty entertained by Awaken the Suffering. I admit, I am not as picky about my genre's as others might be, but I know shit when I smell it. This is not shit. This is rock solid, fun death metal that entertains, not amazes.
Slam death metal is not a genre name that is thrown around too often, and a lot of people, metal heads not excluded, do not even know it exists. Deathcore on the otherhand, is a term most of us are all too familiar with. The genres have many aspects in common, to the point where some bands blur the dividing line (Despised Icon). Both styles even feature fanboys who wear flat bills and hardcore dance. Ever heard of the term pig squealing? The vocal technique owes its birth and perfection to the slam death metal community and yet it’s the deathcore superstars that reap all of the fame and cash. Most importantly, the one aspect that not only rings true to both genres, but is the actual cornerstone to which they are both structured around is the art of the breakdown. It is this element that also divides them and keeps them seperate ideas, for now.
Slam bands perform their very namesake, the word “slam” is the equivalent of a breakdown. Slamming is more constant; chugging guitars with machine gun doublebass and a singer who sounds like the giant bull frog that lives beneath the tree in “Pan’s Labyrinth”. Slam death is also much more gore obsessed than your run of the mill Hot Topic sponsored, factory modeled deathcore band. Not to be mistaken with brutal death metal, slam bands usually do not include any technical flair, melodies or solos to speak of, opting instead to focus entirely on the heaviest slams possible. The crude unmelodic slab of hospital morgue cement foundation of slam is what Pathology constructs their brand of death metal on.
“Awaken to the Suffering” is Pathology’s 5th release, however they have only as of late been making much of a name for themselves in the underground, due to a record contract with the unusual label choice of Victory Records– that’s right, the same label that has released emo mallcore bands such as Atreyu, Hawthorne Heights and Hatebreed. I have listened to the previous album “Legacy of the Ancients” once or twice, and it was a pretty average piece of brutal death metal/slam fusion. Other than the single “Code Injection” I can’t say I remember a standout track on the whole thing.
However, “Awaken to the Suffering” identifies most of the issues of the previous record, corrects them, and improves upon the sound that has already been laid out in a pretty standard album progression. For a band like Pathology, the subtle changes in songwriting and an increase in technical proficiency was extremely needed. Fortunately, they tweaked their sound enough that their latest offering should please most death metal fans, and possibly become a gateway for future listeners to explore lesser known subgenres of death metal.
This is by no means a mainstream metal album, but through the use of guitar leads and a few well placed breakdowns more akin to the popular deathcore bands, Pathology has managed to write songs that you can actually tell apart. There are distinguishable heavy parts, blast beats, and melodies that are recognizable to specific tracks, and that really is a step in the right direction that slam death metal needs to take in order to continue being a sustained genre. In a way this is the slam record I have been waiting for, from one angle it is a solid release with a couple memorable tracks but nothing to write home about, and yet at another angle it strikes an almost perfect balance between two genres that have very different levels of notoriety withing the metal substructure.
It’s this bridge and the advancement of the song writing abilities of the musicians that sells this release for me. If you are a fan of Inherit Disease, Guttural Secrete or Devourment you will probably really enjoy this album based on its brutal death metal qualities. If you are a fan of traditional deathcore bands such as All Shall Perish, Despised Icon and Job for a Cowboy, there’s a strong chance you will find something to like here, and it may even possibly open a few doors for you. If neither of these genres are up your alley, you may not make it past the 2nd or 3rd track. It may be a recording for a specific audience, but “Awaken to the Suffering” does progress a staling genre in a pleasing direction.
Originally written for:http://leatherandtrash.wordpress.com/album-reviews/pathology-awaken-to-the-suffering-2011/