Review Summary: A great album by an innovative band that is all too often overlooked.
Pathongenic Ocular Dissonance, originally released in 1992, has always been an odd album for me. It will probably prove to be difficult for me to review. It is dark, complex, and as I said, odd. Well to me anyway. Nevertheless, I find many parts of it to be brilliant, and also I think it has some of Tourniquet's best work, such as the title track.
The album opens with a strange intro of spoken word with echoing guitar harmonics, then into a balladesque slow movement with cool harmonies and a basic riff that would remind anybody of something Metallica would have done on "...And Justice for All" or the Black album. But then comes the mayhem!
The title track begins with a fiercely catchy solo backed by solid triplet riffs and then comes the double bass and fast solo, crescendoing into the badass main riff. This song is full of blast beats, death metal speed picking, thick fuzzy bass, and great raspy shouting. I've always found this song to be amazing. One of the most noticable things is that original vocalist Guy Ritter does very little, as most of the shouting vocals are done by fantastic guitarist Gary Lenaire. Guy Ritter left the band shortly after the making of this album, actually. Apparently due to musical and spiritual issues.
The following song "Phantom Limb" is by far one of my favorite in Tourniquet's catalog. It's a blues-metal masterpiece. It has cow bells, wahs, double bass, and wicked blues riffs. The lyrics are Tourniquet's usual Christian-based ideals with lots of medical terminology. It's interesting no mattter how you look at it. This song just slams.
A couple more songs pass by, and they're not bad by any means, yet they fail to grab your attention in the long run. But track six, titled "Gelatinous Tubercles of Purulent Ossification" (Carcass, anyone?), will make your brain slide out of your skull. This is probably my favorite Tourniquet track of all time. It is technical, methodical, and will bludgeon you to a pulp. The track plods along with chug-a-chug triplet riffing at first, then goes into a mathematical mind**** of palm muting and start-stop time signatures and computerized vocals. The song then completely messes with you by finishing with a bluesy riff with double bass drums complimented by little choppy high-note hammer-ons. It's totally nuts. It's totally odd and unique. I am enthralled.
Another crazy track, called "Theodicy on Trial", will have you bobbing your head to maniacal guitar slides and straight forward riffing. This song is extremely creative. The lyrics are interesting too, as the song deals with the biblical character of Job. I also really dig Guy Ritter's vocals on this song. Insane solos and thrash drumming finish this song nicely. Following is a cool instrumental "Descent into the Maelstrom" that showcases drummer Ted Kirkpatrck's fantastic abilities. Finishing the album is a wacked track called "The Skeezix Dilemma" based on the old children's books of Uncle Wiggily.
In conclusion, this album is fantastic. It is a very creative piece of work. It is also dark and haunting. It shows Tourniquet moving into a heavier and more technical realm. The drums are top-notch, the guitar work is shred-tastic, and all the vocals are solid and sometimes extremely creative and odd depending on who's doing the duty. I really like the production, it's thick and the guitar has a sweet "metal" tone. All instruments are clear, although I'll admit the bass seems to be not as noticable.
I urge that you pick up the remastered version that came out in 2001, just for the improved sonics, although I always thought the cover sucked compared to the original. The remastered issue has good live tracks and a fantastic drum solo as well. Hope you enjoy.