Pathology
Pathology

Chances are, if you’re a “brutal death metal” fan, that you are well familiar with California’s Pathology. Hell, if you’re just a half-assed metal fan you’ve probably heard of the band at the very least. The group has released nine albums, new album included, in eleven years of solid brutal death metal. Some albums a little above average, others a tad below, but all pretty much enjoyable; though none of them are you really going to recall much of a hour after listening, much less a day or more. No friends, Pathology reside in the here and now, and their only goal is to eviscerate you in the short time that they have you. The band returns to Comatose Music, who released their 2009 offering, Age of Onset, for their brand new self-titled  album; and honestly, this one is simply going to come down to the slightest of individual tastes as to whether Pathology falls above or below the median line of average.

First things first though, the production and mix of Pathology is just flat out bad. Okay, maybe bad is a little harsh and not really the best term of conveyance. Used to be, when a production was “bad” it usually meant muddy, hard to hear, unrefined, or something of that nature. Pathology is neither of these things. The instrumentation is clear and clearly defined, almost clinical and maybe even a bit sterile, but most of all, Pathology‘s production/mix is just too thin. The guitar is devoid of needed low end heft, or maybe it just sits behind the vocals too much, which seem too high in the mix and step all over everything with little variation (it’s Matti Way though, so I guess I can’t really gripe about that, it’s just his style/calling card),the bass is non-existent, and the drums lack any “thunder and lighting”, they have no “oomph” to them and are too controlled/concise, resulting in an almost programmed like presentation. The whole thing being too clean for its own good. Think Krisiun‘s Ageless Venomous production job, but not as sad or atrocious.

Alright already, enough about the production of Pathology. What about the music of Pathology? Well, it’s pretty damn good, solid at the very least. There are some strong ideas and riffs going on here and the band obviously knows what it’s doing. A one, two knock-out opens up the album with “Lamentation” and “Dolorous”. The former being more of a slammy, mid-paced affair, full of gurgles and grooves; its catchy rhythm and vocal cadences giving the song a nice Dying Fetus feel to it. The latter being a bit faster with some nice tremolo picked riffs meshing a Cannibal Corpse influence with a slight ominous feel to the groove, while the riff at 1:36 to 1:54 gets the blood flowing and the head banging, with some vibes of Suffocation permeating throughout.

The middle of Pathology paces wonderfully, as the next four tracks are easily among the album’s highlights. Whether it is “Litany” and its fat, crushing Suffo/Fetus grooves, or the more classic death nods of Obituary mixed into the slamming brutality of the head-bobbing madness that is “Dissevered”; or maybe it’s the punishing vocals and slam meets Hate Eternal tremolo picked twists and turns of “Servitors”, or the intensity achieved in “Putrescent” with its plethora of change ups, slight tech flares, and quality drilling riffage. Whatever floats your boat down the river of brutal can successfully be found among these tracks. The band does seem to stumble a bit here and there on the album’s latter half. To put it bluntly, Dave Astor’s drumming sometimes does more harm to the tracks than good. Don’t get me wrong, the man’s performance is spot on and nothing if not notable and commendable. He really does have the potential to be a force to be revered within the material, pushing and driving, yet giving and following when needed. Sometimes he does exactly that, but the majority of the time, Astor is merely a force to be reckoned with along the material. It’s mostly a full on, balls out, pedal to the metal, kill everything in sight mind set that simply works against the groove just as much as it may work with it.

“Opprobrium” proves my point perfectly, as there are some strong ideas and killer moments to be found in the guitar work, but for the most part, the drums step all over these ideas and dulls them to a banal sound. Just letting the material breathe a bit would help the song’s dynamics by ten-fold. Pathology, the band, closes out Pathology, the album, with “Vermilion”. Not a bad song, but things tend to get too samey sounding by this, the tenth track. “Vermilion” does become more interesting and even down right dynamic shortly after the 2:00 minute mark, (Hell, there’s even a tasty lead!) the song benefiting immensely by this slight change up.

Even at thirty minutes running time, this type of metal/album can be long winded. I sometimes wonder why Pathology bothers releasing full length albums with the consistency that they do. In all honesty, the band could trim the fat, on damn near all of their releases, resulting in what would be some awesome EP’s. I see and understand wanting to put out “proper” full length releases, but when you do so almost every year, what is the difference besides some songs being below average quality. The group also needs the input of an actual lead guitarist. Not guest or session players, but an actual full fledged member that can see and understand what is missing, in the formula and supply it. Sometimes that is all that is keeping these tracks from achieving so much more.  If Pathology had more moments akin to the last ¼ of “Vermilion”, the album would stand as an absolute must hear for brutal (broodle?) death metal fans this year. As it stands, I feel that some, maybe even the majority of the riffs, on Pathology fall above the aforementioned average median line, but ultimately, the album falls below.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Kristofor Allred
August 11th, 2017

Comments

  1. Commented by: Grindymcgrinder

    This album sounds massive on my stereo…much better production than the new decrepit birth that’s for sure


  2. Commented by: Red

    I haven’t picked up the new Decrepit Birth album, but that makes me sad….as for Pathology, I thought their best productions were their Victory releases..of course Victory probably had more money going towards it then..


  3. Commented by: E. Thomas

    This sounds fine to me. Also- the lyrics are actually pretty cool- all Dante Alegheri writings


  4. Commented by: Red

    I finally grabbed a copy of the new Decrepit Birth last week, and IMO its production is much better than this new Pathology. The mix gels more cohesively for the album as a whole and brings an organic heaviness to the material. Aces! \m/


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