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Oh. So I guess THIS is how some of you feel when a death metal band you like starts adding breakdowns and elements of deathcore. Usually I'm not one to complain- hell, I basically think breakdowns should be included in everything. Salsa music needs slams to me. But something about Pathology's shift in direction (neatly coinciding with their arrival at Victory Records, whoda thunk it) really rubs me the wrong way. Just a few years ago, Pathology was playing pretty traditional brutal tech death on labels like Amputated Vein and Comatose, but it seems like a bid for mainstream marketability has softened their edges. It's actually very disappointing to me.
Pathology originally sounded like an updated version of old United Guttural or Unique Leader brutal death: pretty chaotic, but with a modern sense of musical streamlining and memorability. Now they basically sound like a poor man's Brain Drill- they're not as good on their instruments so there's less gravity blasting and sweep picking, but the slick 'everything at 11' production job and simple songs masked through very basic drum variation makes me think that Job For A Cowboy was a bigger influence than Pyrexia here. Instead of the chaotic, winding tremolo riffs from before, they're all pretty simple chugging breakdown riffs or those uniquely keening deathcore tremolo riffs which really sound much better in a band like Waking The Cadaver than this one. There's even a couple slam-style moments found on tracks like 'Code Injection'. Hate to say it, but it really feels like Pathology was just grasping for whatever sound would give them the best shot at a paycheck. I suppose it worked since they're now touring with major metalcore bands now.
Even if it weren't for the distaste I have at the band's pseudo-sellout maneuver, it's just a pretty boring album in general. Honestly, this sounds a couple years behind the times even for deathcore: the tracks are too simple for their own good, the one-dimensional vocals don't have much presence in the music, and the riffs really seem to have come from a 'Deathcore For Dummies' book. 'Code Injection', the single track, is very obviously the best on the album, but I don't know if that's because it's really a better song or simply because that early in the album you haven't had time to get bored with the band's now entirely monodimensional sound. Might as well write these guys off: I seriously doubt that you'll hear anything from 'Surgically Hacked' if they play live now.
Oh well, another good band bites the dust. Pathology were never particularly incredible, but I always figured that they had more credibility than this. I have no problem with a band taking on hardcore influences, but when it's as blatant and unnatural as in this case, it makes me think there's scamming afoot. You probably shouldn't buy this even if you do like deathcore- it's not that good for the genre and I honestly don't think people should be supporting bands when they bail out like this.
Releasing now their fourth full-length album, brutal death metal band Pathology brings some heavy and technical riffs to the table with "Legacy of the Ancients." But are those riffs good enough to stick out in a sea of brutal death metal bands already going strong? Here's your answer:
Going into this album, I didn't have very high expectations. These guys being on Victory Records just kind of rubbed me the wrong way. Generally, Victory tends to churn out the "metal" bands that have more hardcore influence than legit metal influence. Don't get me wrong. I love me some Between The Buried and Me, but that's neither here nor there. Regardless, my hunch was correct. Though brutal death metal tends to sound a lot like deathcore at times, this album have some indisputably stupid breakdowns on it accompanied by some misplaced two-steps off of a Killwhitneydead release, which is a disappointment, because it also has some pretty decent slams and technical riffs to it. Unfortunately, none of these riffs or slams are overly memorable. A lot of the time you wonder if you are still listening to the same track you were listening to three minutes ago. Though slam and brutal death metal have a tendency to sound similar from song to song, bands like Vulvectomy do a good job at setting the bar with memorable, responsible slams that let you know you aren't just listening to filler tracks.
Though the tracks themselves are definitely lacking in some fundamental musical structure and writing, I have to say, all the instruments on this album are pretty tight sounding. The drums have a nice distinguished sound that blend well with the guitars. All the tones on this album sound heavy, and crisp. But, in honesty, they do lack personality in some respects. The bass was surprisingly audible, and I really appreciated that factor of the album. It added an element of heaviness to the album, which in turn added some overall fun to the album. The number one praise I have for this album is the skills of the front man for the band. he has some great guttural growls on this album, and it was definitely the most brutal aspect of the album, hands down.
My final gripe about this album is that...the production is too well done. Brutal death metal should be a gritty, disgusting sounding genre. There is a reason it gets so much flack, and the true fans of it revel in the fact that it sounds revolting. The album is simply too polished for a weathered brutal death listener to get into. So, as this may be looked at as a perk to some who are newer to the genre, the remainder of the listeners will feel somewhat displeased if you enjoy your brutal death in the vain of Devourment.
The only way I would really recommend this album would be to someone who is either new to metal in general (Which I may even hesitate to do), or someone who is new to brutal death metal as a genre. The contributions that this album makes are very minimal and are so close to being deathcore that is a disappointment. But, in all fairness, what this album lacks in a lot of spots, makes up for to some degree in energy and a general sense of stupid fun. So I can't completely dislike it, but I can come damn close.
If you're like me, when you first heard that Pathology would be releasing Legacy of the Ancients, your thought process went something like, "The album's going to be on Victory? Seriously? It's not April 1st yet is it?" After releasing three albums on just as many underground death metal labels (Amputated Vein, Grindhead, and Comatose), Victory seems like a very odd choice for the band. In fact, it's an odd label for any brutal death metal band. I can only speculate as to why Victory would want to sign Pathology. Maybe they are hoping to use the Cattle Decapitation / The Locust connection to get the Victory "kids" interested. (Drummer Dave Astor was in both bands.) Or maybe Victory wants their own piece of the modern, moshable death metal pie for their roster. Who knows? Anyway, the real question should be, "Is the music good?" The answer my friends is a resounding "yes."
Despite the label association, Pathology maintains its trademark brutality on Legacy of the Ancients. The band's sound is basically intact except that the songs are even more catchy this time around. Legacy of the Ancients sounds like a blend of the crushing heaviness and guttural vocals of Disgorge, the grooves of Dying Fetus (minus the widdly-widdly guitar parts), and a handful of Cannibal Corpse riffs all molded into one solid album. At times the songs may seem slightly less energetic and frantic than on past releases, but the unforgettable hooks and sturdy song writing quickly destroy any concerns. While the band flirts with the idea of "slam metal" somewhat, it's never to the point that it becomes a real problem for fans of standard brutal death metal. In other words, Pathology has enough "true" death metal in its equation to offset any slamming tendencies that might turn off some listeners. There's more going on here than "jun-jun-junjunjun" guitar parts. This is just good, catchy stuff. Guitarist Tim Tiszczenko often plays some simple but effective grooves like on the album's lead single, "Code Injection," that set up shop in your head and then refuse to leave. However, there are also plenty of high speed riffs in each song that usually alternate with the chunky grooves to help keep things from becoming an over-the-top chug fest. There are also occasional spurts of pinch harmonics, melodic chord inversions, and some whammy bar action to help keep things interesting. Oscar Ramirez's bass compliments all of these guitar parts by thickening the groove. Meanwhile Astor's drums pound away underneath it all. The drum beats often change completely while the guitars continue with the same riff, making the songs ebb and flow dynamically like on the tracks "Tower of Babel" and "Blood Runs." Matti Way turns in his usual ultra-guttural and indecipherable vocal performance which you may already be familiar with due to his previous work with other bands like Disgorge. His vocals are definitely a love it or hate it style. (I happen to love it.) Tying all of the instruments together is the awesome production job which raises the sound quality of Legacy of the Ancients miles above anything Pathology has released before. Everything sounds clear, fat, and crushing. With songs that are more catchy than ever and solid production, Pathology has created the strongest album of its career to date.
If you like brutal death metal with some catchy grooves, you may have a new favorite album in Legacy of the Ancients. Old fans may miss some of the more chaotic and semi-complex aspects of the past albums, but overall with the exception of the stellar production, the difference between this album and older releases is actually pretty negligible. The songs are so catchy and memorable that it's doubtful than anyone will care about the slight differences anyhow. I only hope that Pathology does not choose to simplify things beyond this in the future. I would hate to see them devolve into slam simpletons.
As for the signing to Victory, it seems that things are actually working out very well for Pathology. Without having to really change their sound, the band now has the potential to reach tons of new fans. The improved production definitely helps the band's catchy riffs show through better than ever. Pathology is also going to be touring its ass off in support of this album with back-to-back high-profile tours with Immolation, Nile, and Deicide in the near future. It's going to be interesting to see how things turn out for Pathology now that the band has a label behind it that can afford to give it an extra push. Maybe this whole Victory idea isn't so bad after all.
Originally written for http://www.metalpsalter.com
How very surprising it was to find out that Pathology was signing to Victory Records, home of countless "emo" bands of the new millennium and the evidently non-metal Between the Buried and Me. Whatever in the world that could have been motivated by, I can not say, but lo and behold, Pathology are back yet again with another full length.
If you've heard Pathology (or Brodequin.....or Disgorge,etc), you know what you're in for. I, for one, have a soft spot for ultra-brutal, gurgling, croaking, slamming death, and was not one bit disappointed. Consistency is comforting, in many cases. I think the sheer quantity of personal epiphanies that this album will cause will be in the single digits and that is totally fine. What you will will be chugging, half-technical riffs with the occasional melodic phrase (like in "Afterlife"), some grooving, held together by tight, effective, and concise drumming, with minimal emphasis on flashy fills and way more on solid, simple rhythms and blasts.
There really isn't a ton to say. Pathology is a consistent band with a consistent sound. Enjoy?
I've been in a slam death mood for a little while again. These phases come and go I guess. I have been trying to avoid placing too many online orders for albums so finding this CD at Hastings was a pleasant surprise. As far as slam death goes, this group is surprisingly accessible and definitely not as gore-obsessed or misogynistic as other bands. Which means they are probably not well-received by some of the more hardcore fans of the genre.
One other strange note before launching into the music. This band is now on Victory Records, a label heretofore known as more of a hardcore label with groups like Hawthorne Heights, Atreyu, Taking Back Sunday, and lots of other terrible bands. So seeing a slam death band on the label is pretty shocking. This kind of thing usually gets released on Sevared, Comatose, Amputated Vein or occasionally Relapse.
Anyway, things start off melodically and eerie with a string intro and then it launches directly into the first slam early in the second track. The production is extremely beefy with lots of bass. It's otherwise clear and you could almost make out the lyrics if not for the incredibly deep guttural vocals at work. Fairly typical for slam so no complaints here. This album sounds great, it is not nearly as raw as many other slam albums.
As I mentioned before, this is a bit more of an accessible slam album. The slams are all still there, but they are complemented by slightly technical riffing and leads. The musicians are all talented and play well. The songwriting is impressive and these songs are surprisingly memorable and don't blend in with each other, which has sometimes been the downfall of many slam bands.
Lyrically, the band deals with horror themes, as evidenced by the zombie cover art. They do not have the same gore obsession or irritating misogyny as other bands, which is a big plus. Sometimes that makes it extremely difficult to listen to this style.
If I had to point to a new album to look into to get into this genre, this album by Pathology would be the one. It does not possess many of the elements that make slam an intense genre and it sounds close enough to technical brutal death to be interesting. This is a good gateway album into the world of slam.
Yet another example of how the Victory Records label has truly begun to diversify itself away from the hardcore and punk banners it was formed under, California's Pathology play a very American style of bludgeoning, brutal death metal which derives as much from the slam school as the NYDM and Florida roots influences. I am normally predisposed to think of such a mix as rather uninspiring, since its just so prevalent in forgettable in the case of so many bands, but at the very least these guys know how to pace themselves so that you do feel the hammering begin deep within yourself when they lurch into one of their many, slow grooving segments that feel like neanderthal vs. cannibal warfare.
Perhaps it is the experience of several of the band's members that help them restrain from some stupendously bland songwriting. Vocalist Matti way has performed with a bunch of other small scale death metal acts, the most known of which would be Disgorge. Drummer Dave Astor has played in The Locust and Cattle Decapitation, and with guitarist Tim Tiszczenko he also has another death metal outfit in Being Killed. These are gentlemen who know how to get a crowd moving, and that seems a pretty important factor in how they structure out the material, rarely breaking into any manner of ambitious, technical notation. This is simultaneously the strength and weakness of Legacy of the Ancients, for while its mid to fast range of material creates a welcome balance against the mosh hymns, it also gives you the impression that the band would be a lot better if they would simply 'open up' more often, and drop half the pit chugs from the writing.
A concrete fisting is delivered track after track, first with "Code Injection" and then with "Among Giants", teasing you with a blast before the breakdowns begin to incessantly factor into the festivities. "Abduction" starts with a Cannibal Corpse-like battery, and this is one of the better songs, though it too threads the needle with some dumbfounded moshing. "Afterlife"and "Tower of Babel" fall into this same pattern, but "The Extinction of Flesh" at least offers a more thrash centered rhythm in place of an average death or metalcore breakdown. Some of the tracks, like "Collapsing in Violence" are like one breakdown stretched out across the entire track, perfect for the slamming, windmilling, 18 year old but sadly not that interesting from a writing perspective. Ditto for the title track.
Legacy of the Ancients compensates a little for its dearth of quality riffing with its huge production. The record sounds modern, and enormous, with brick house guitar chugs and traumatic if monotonous guttural vocals that only border on the squeals of some hacked up sow. The riffs are tight enough to exhibit the skill of the musicians, but they rarely do much beyond the expected. The lyrics are thankfully above and beyond the typical gore hound style. They're violent, but centered about archaic religious and occult symbolism. I get the feeling Pathology is meant more for the live setting than the studio, if placed at a proper gig they will cause eruptions of violence within the brutal death or deathcore sect in a very short order. Perhaps the riffs would be a little better if the band slowed down a notch. Since forming in 2006, this is already their 4th album, so a pause might help establish some more interesting chord progressions, in and out of the many grooves. You could definitely come by a band worse than this one for the style they play, a mix of Suffocation, Devourment and Cannibal Corpse, but the flip side is that you could also come by a lot better.