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The so-called middle era of Pathology where Matti Way temporarily parted ways with the fold and was replaced with deathcore extraordinaire Jon Huber of I Declare War fame was one marked by a surprising level of sameness. Granted, the more throaty character of Huber's inhuman vocalizations are fairly distinct from the chesty and generally incomprehensible work of Way, but the total package didn't see to massive of a shift in flavor. If nothing else, this era was struck more by a continued move towards politics and conspiracy theory, and consequently away from gratuitous violence both in terms of lyrical content and overall imagery, yet in the process the aggression factor remained the same, with maybe a greater degree of polish and precision to the production that results in a more mechanical sound. But for all the little nuances that can be brought up to explain how the Huber era was slightly different from the Way era both before and after, The Time Of Great Purification generally functions as fanfare that does little to rock the stylistic boat.
One of the key features of this album's sound is the utter relentlessness of the drum work, and how it plays off an arrangement that is otherwise fairly by the numbers and well-rounded. It's generally stipulated that Pathology has always been Dave Astor's baby, and his presence on here is about as dominant as that of Pete Sandoval throughout Morbid Angel's lengthy career, and interestingly enough guitarist Kevin Schwartz actually manages to mix things up to the point of almost becoming a brutal answer to Trey Azagthoth, though with about half as many guitar solos. That's sort of the interesting thing about this album, despite being chock full of machine gun madness and blast beats and the guitar work being titled towards a more technical take of brutality, it manages to be very measured and calculating in how it displays its virtuoso elements. It's pretty far removed from the over-indulgent character of outfits like Brain Drill and Decrepit Birth, and ends up in a place that is somewhere between Suffocation and Cannibal Corpse in terms of elaboration, though stylistically quite different.
Despite being among the faster and more frenzied oriented albums to grace the stage in 2012, Pathology still makes some time to remember the more slamming character of the origin as a band, and often use it as a sectional contrasting device in between what is otherwise a consistent barrage of automatic fire. "Asphyxiation Through Consumption" is among the more nuanced examples of this, regularly shifting between tremolo madness and slower, chugging grooves that are occasionally accompanied by slower breaks in the drum work, but otherwise a bit obscured by Astor's love of speed. "Remnants Of Freedom" is a bit more obvious as it has a couple of really notable breakdown moments where everything slows to a trudging stomp that comes all but out of nowhere, and is immediately preceded and chased by busier riffs and blurring beats. But most intriguing of all is the brilliant way that when Schwartz's brief solos make an appearance, everything tends to calm down a bit to allow his work to shine, particularly on "Torment In Salvation" and "Imprisoned By Fear", and often the riffs will take on more of a thrashing character rather than a slamming one, albeit in deep, down-tuned territory where it doesn't sound much like traditional thrash.
There isn't really much to complain about with an album like this one if a more accessible and mixed mode of brutality is one's aim, the only real area where it loses a bit of ground is that, on the whole, the songs are so short and stylistically similar that it gets a bit tough to tell where one song ends and the other begins, and a lot of the time some good ideas feel like they could have bore repeating a few more times. The drum work is extremely precise and processed sounding, which has occasional invited accusations of a drum machine actually being used, though up until immediately following this album, the use of a bass player definitely gives this album more of an organic heaviness that what would later be heard on Lords Of Rephaim, even though it's pretty well buried underneath the drums and guitars. Huber really comes through on here and definitely pulls off being a stand-in for Way, faithfully pulling off the style as if he'd never been involved with the deathcore scene. Some times a jagged edge is what is needed to get the cadavers to splatter, but in the world of secretive intrigues, a smoother curvature with a computerized edge will function just as effectively.
I had never heard of Pathology until they headlined the Summer Slaughter Survivors tour in 2012. I discovered "The Time of Great Purification" on YouTube via their music video for the second song on the album "Tyrannical Decay". I found this to be a very catchy song, so i decided the buy the album. Unfortunately, this turned out to be the best song on the record, and later lost its potency.
"The Time of Great Purification", Pathology's 6th full length, is both brutal, and a bit boring. The best part about the record is the percussion. Drummer and founder David Astor provides a decent drumming performance throughout, and I'm not sure if I ever heard him stop his double bass pedals in the whole album. Which isn't a bad thing, just an observation. The guitar and bass performances are nothing too special. Each give an equal effort, and there are a few guitar solos. They were pretty good, but they were too few in my book. Vocalist Jon Huber gives a consistent performance, and by consistent, I mean they are generally the same sound throughout the entire album.
I found each passing song to sound very similar to the previous one, and it was often hard to tell when each song stopped and another began. Before I knew it, the album was over, and I thought it was just one half hour long song. Compared to previous efforts from Pathology, "The Time of Great Purification" is mediocre at best. On past albums, the guitar work was much better, and songs did not seem to all mold into one similar song.
In a nutshell, "The Time of Great Purification" was a short lived joy of brutal death metal and slam. I listened to past Pathology albums for a comparison, and the writing is far superior. With the return of former guitarist Tim Tiszczenko and vocalist Matti Way, the future albums of Pathology have more promise to them, and I will be eager to here the new material coming out later in 2013. Also, with the band being finished with their three album contract on Victory Records, they have signed with Sevared Records, going back to their underground roots. This may also change their sound and writing as well, so be on the lookout for the changes.
If you enjoy basic brutal death metal and slam, you may find "The Time of Great Purification" to be the album for you. If not, wait for their new album to come out, and enjoy the old lineup of Pathology once again.