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I will now try to review one of my favorite albums. Bear with me if I become sentimental.
I don’t remember how I first heard of Pathos, but it was around the time when this, their last(?) album was being released. Maybe I read an interview with the band, or just saw the album artwork in a record store or a magazine?
However, I do know that I paid 169 SEK for it in town, on the 22nd of December 2002. At the same time I bought The Haunted’s debut and the, also fresh, second album by The Forsaken, “Arts Of Desolation” (Mikael Håkansson, who played bass on the first The Forsaken album, worked there and approved of my choices. I miss him. Does anyone know what became of him after the The Project Hate MCMXCIX albums?). I happened to meet Jonas Björler of The Haunted (also At The Gates, of corpse) on the way out of the store and got my newly purchased album signed by him. I was only 16 years old, and this was one of the coolest days of my life.
Making things better, these three albums are among the best albums ever coming out of Sweden in their respective fields. Still, “Katharsis”, from Trollhättan’s (a swedish town; the name roughly translates to “the troll hood”, but not hood as in “ghetto”) Pathos is the one closest to my heart, and here is why:
1. Riffing. It’s unrelenting!
2. Groove. Everything is complex, yet catchy!
3. Vocals. Clean singing with real power!
These are the three areas where “Katharsis” really sticks out. For me, it’s a thrash/progressive masterpiece. I call it thrash because of the riffing and momentum. I call it progressive because of the unconventional tempos. Upon analyzing the album through the years I always come back to these points. The guitars are never static. Riff-maestro Specht wrote some of the catchiest and heavy, driving riffs I have ever heard and together with Daniel Antonsson (later of Dimension Zero, Soilwork and Dark Tranquillity fame) he made Hall of Fame-status in my book.
Groove is the second crux in the marrow. And here is where drummer Esko Salow shines. In short: he even made the Gothenburg power metal outfit Nostradameus groove.
And vocals, such vocals. Paul Schöning, who is a real soft/nice guy in private, delivers clean vocals with real power (I’m sorry for the repeating) on par with the Bollnäs (again: Sweden) school of power metal. You know, Morgana Lefay (Charles Rytkönen) and Tad Morose (Urban Breed)… There is no falsetto whimpery on this album, just top class, high throat, clean singing with awesome arrangements and melodies.
This could have been a (or THE?) perfect album, but since god hates us all, he decided to end “Katharsis” with an instrumental industrial track called “Divine Intentions”. My goal in life is to help spread the motto of NOT using intro and outro tracks and the device: “No fillers!” (in swedish: “Släpp hellre en EP!”) And this 12th track on the album is one of the most unnecessary constructions in music history. I weep every time I hear it. But then I start the record over with the title track and it’s (almost) forgotten.
Review originally published on Deathdomain.com
For those unfamiliar with these guys, they are genre-merging Power Metal act from Sweden with influences from Doom as well as traditional metal and Thrash. This CD, "Katharsis" is their third album and their first featuring Paul Schöning on vocals. Anyway, I discovered Pathos in the early summer when I witnessed their live performance on the 2004 Sweden Rock festival. Hearing how skilled they were, I couldn't believe that I hadn't heard of them before. The fact that these guys don't have a major underground exposure bothers me.
There is no doubt that these guys are highly skilled musicians. Many of their songs are written in a Prog-like way with major melody progressions featuring a lot of guitar breakdowns and leads. This is what is so interesting about Pathos. While carrying a Power Metal catchiness they succeed in still being heavy as fuck on occasion and still having time to have slow, Doom-like sections. The song "Violated" is a great example. It starts out with a slow bassline that gets accompanied by lead guitar and works its way into crushing heavy riffing flawlessly without ever losing coherency.
The production sound is totally awesome as well. A clear, blasting sound with emphasis on chunky guitars and punishing drums. It totally reveals the monstrous talents of the drummer as well as the sheer power of the riffing. Vocals sound great as well simply being the icing on the cake and fitting perfectly in context with the rest of the sound. Many high-pitched vocalists (especially Power Metal ones) tend to piss me off but this guy is pretty much spot on in every song. He sounds clear, sincere and powerful without ever going over the top.
I would recommend this to Power Metal fans as well as fans of traditional metal and Prog fanatics. Even extreme metal fans could find a lot of listening value in this CD if they can stomach the vocals. The lack of variation in style between the songs is the only thing that stops "Katharsis" from being totally ace. This was released back in 2002, so I'm eagerly awaiting a follow-up. Meanwhile, I'm gonna promote this insanely underrated band to the masses.
Favourite tracks: "Katharsis", "Suicidal Saviour Lies", "Revelation" and "Violated"
Even after their third release this band stays quite unknown, though they recorded an intense tour de force through prog / doom / speed influenced power metal realms. Massive sound, ultra heavy guitars, well-placed double bass attacks, short intro parts, clear vocals and brilliant production characterize this album. In comparison with the first one the sound became tighter and more polished. The new singer fits in well, though Stefan Carlsson showed a slightly better performance.
After the opening title track leaves you breathless, the rhythm guitar of “Inhale” tears you apart. This one as highlight has a nice build-up intro part and an ultra mighty solo passage. The only minus for this album is a certain similarity of the songs. Each one very strong, but taken together they lack a bit of variation.