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"Surgically Hacked" is the debut album of this californian three-piece. This is intense brutal death metal, not excessively technical, but varied and enjoyable. The biggest flaw I found here is, as always, the short length of the album. It's only 20 minutes long, which obviously leaves the listener craving for more. The only advantage I see in such a short release is that you will never get bored, as you will not have time to do so...
Guitars sound powerful, heavy and crushing. There are lots of pinch harmonics, palm-muted riffs and some chugging too, and the riffs are varied and a bit complex, and oppossed to modern brutal/technical death metal are mostly easily recognizable, even catchy on some tracks like "Second Dimensional Apparition", one of the highlights of the album. On the other hand, bass guitar is almost inaudible, and it just follows the guitar riffs.
Vocals are quite monotonous, deep guttural growls with little variation, nothing special or original either, like tons of other death metal vocalists. At times, vocals sound a bit overridden by the rest of the instruments, but that's not that grave since voice is clearly audible though. Lyrics are the typical gore-soaked death metal, full of bleeding, evisceration and dismemberments; simply enjoyable.
Drums are basically fast, with lots of blast-beats, slowing down to groovy slamming sections here and there. Drummer Dave Astor keeps the timing imposed by guitar riffs perfectly, and gives a pretty varied drum work for a brutal death metal act. Nevertheles, snare drum sounds quite high-pitched and somewhat artificial.
This is not really original or breath-taking, but it's enjoyable enough for any listener into brutal yet catchy death metal.
The new, highly anticipated Pathology album is right around the corner, set for release later this September, and what's a better way to welcome its arrival into the unending metal universe than revisiting the debut album that started it all for this brutal San Diego based band? Since their formation in 2006, Pathology have had a knack for stirring up chaos. Surgically Hacked even saw itself banned in Germany in 2010, four years after its initial release. What kind of carnage can be expected from this twenty minute debut?
At this point, having just formed, Pathology are still a three man band; Dave Asator on drums, Tim Tiszczenko on bass and vocals, and Nick Gervais on guitar. At times, Surgically Hacked can come off laden in grindcore influence given the short track lengths, lack of audible bass and the frantic pace of the album overall. This is offset by a heavy reliance on gutteral vocals and occasional chug riffs that slow the material down and allow it to breathe, such as in the songs "Demented Betrayal" and "Unsuspecting Poltergeist Possession" which are two of the best on Surgically Hacked that pull out all of the stops and show off what the band are capable of.
The guitars are mixed up to involve fast flurries of riffs, surgically precise tremolo picking and pinch harmonics that are laid out like traps in all of the right places. Injected throughout the content are sections which make use of slower, palm muted riffs and melodic tremolo picking that slice up the bouts of unrelenting fury produced throughout most of the album. "Second Dimensional Apparition" is a great take on the diversity of how sluggish the guitars can become versus a taste of how furious they can be. The vocals are decent for brutal death and there isn't much to comment on; a bowel-busting set of low gutterals with inhuman growls, rarely seeing any deviation in tone. The drums consistently use over-driven hyper blast beats and rarely, if ever, slow down with the guitars. This keeps the accelerated tempo of the album alive even through the lethargic parts. The bass is mostly inaudible, and when it is heard it's keeping a steady rhythm between the guitar and drums.
Surgically Hacked is an enjoyable, fun album worth quite a few listens. The lyrics are full of guts and gore, the guitars have squealies in all of the right places, even the blast beats are fun to chaotically air-drum along to. Impressive for a first attempt that still stands tall half a decade later. The production value is good and prevents the material from becoming fuzzy and cluttered. The drumming needs work, on the album itself it comes across sounding more like a drum machine rather than a live drummer and sometimes the drums get a little too loud in the mix. The vocals could also use some improvement, something zesty thrown in to offset the monotonous mid-tone gutterals. Otherwise, this album is an intense, short, brutal experience that shouldn't be passed up.
- Villi Thorne
'Surgically Hacked' moves along like a happy little bumblebee, buzzing this way and that, landing on one flower or another for a couple minutes before buzz-buzz-buzzing onto the next one. It's an awfully angry bumblebee that buzzes very quickly and tends to land on flowers which involve people being dismembered, but it's a bumblebee nonetheless with all the fun and silliness that entails.
Well Pathology plays a fast, sprightly style of technical brutal death that's driven by a drum machine, very fast, technical riffing, and various varieties of gurgles, snorts, and shrieks. It's very fun music, which is something I typically despise in metal, but 'Surgically Hacked' has a charm about it; the riffs are somewhat playful in their spastic, Malignancy-derived technicality and the impatient nature of the songs which are over in typically under two minutes gives the album a swift pacing and overall sense of immediacy. Nothing drags itself out; since the release is only twenty minutes long anyway, it would be difficult to.
Pathology is extremely fast; the drum machine rarely drops below hyperblast tempos and the buzzing tremolo riffs only stop in the brief breathing room between tracks. Despite the intensity of the music, the rather clean and clear production prevents it from getting claustrophobic or overwhelming, really allowing the listener to enjoy the peculiarities and intricacies of the individual tracks in full. It would be hard to pinpoint particular tracks of note since this music functions as little more than a whirlwind made of scalpels and teeth, but that's not really a problem; the sheer brutality and insanity of 'Surgically Hacked' is all part of its eventual charm, and I can't really imagine the album any other way.
This is technical brutal death in a post-slam world; with slam now taking up a great deal of attention in the brutal death scene, 'regular' tech bands need to get even crazier to compensate. If the general material produced from that movement is like this, I can only say it's a good thing. Pathology manages to make something genuinely intense without sacrificing songwriting quality or overall enjoyability, and this debut should be checked out by any and all death/grind or brutal death fans.