Review Summary: Another solid outing from one of the brutal death metal scene's veterans.
It’s no secret that modern death metal isn’t exactly thriving in terms of innovation and originality. Sure, you’ve got a couple of unique bands here and there, but for the most part, almost every band sticks to the same formula. But despite all this, there is an abundance of solid death metal albums springing up from almost every corner of the world. And with their 6th studio album, Californian death metal veterans Pathology prove that if it ain’t broken, there isn’t really any point in fixing it.
One of the first things you’ll notice when you listen to this album is the excellent production. Instead of opting for poor production to make the music sound more raw and brutal, the band decided to go with a high quality approach to it, allowing for all of the different instrumental and non-instrumental elements to come out sounding crisp and clear. Don’t be caught off-guard by this, though: The music is still as crushingly heavy and brutal as ever. Guitarist Kevin Schwartz does a fantastic job with the guitar work, alternating between technical riffing, slams, breakdowns, and on occasion, solos. Dave Astor and Oscar Ramirez go for the traditional death metal approach to the bass and drum parts, and while it is unfortunate that they don’t do anything particularly impressive or memorable, they put in a good effort regardless. And finally, vocalist Jonathan Huber’s performance is……… Well, interesting, to say the least. Some may prefer Matti Way’s ultra-low guttural vocal technique, but Huber’s strange pseudo-pig squeal style does help to give the band a more……. “Unique” sound. If you can call it that.
Another one of the album’s biggest strengths is the run time and song lengths. There is only one song on the entire album that goes past three minutes, and that’s only by two seconds. By doing this, Pathology manage to keep their album interesting without making the songs end too abruptly or drag on for too long, which helps greatly.
Sadly, this album still suffers from several significant issues. Firstly, there’s obviously so long someone can bear to listen to Huber’s absolutely incomprehensible grunting and burping. I know I said earlier that he has an interesting style, but that doesn’t necessarily make it good. I mean, at least Matti Way sounded like he was saying SOMETHING. Huber just sounds like a really annoyed pig being possessed by a demon. Another issue is the fact that, for better or for worse, every song flows into the next almost perfectly. As in to the point where you can’t tell individual song titles apart. To some, including myself, this may work in favor of the album in the sense that Pathology is far enough in their career to understand that there’s no point in trying to create some sort of gigantic modern death metal masterpiece. However, to others who are looking for a new, original brutal death metal band, this might be turn-off.
Overall, this album is probably one of, if not the best of Pathology’s discography. If anything, it’s probably a good gateway album for those new to slam/brutal death metal into more underground bands. And while it’s certainly not the modern death metal masterpiece we’ve been hoping for, it’s a pretty damn good record to listen to during the wait.