Thursday, July 8, 2010

Pathology - Legacy of the Ancients (2010)

Yet another example of how the Victory Records label has truly begun to diversify itself away from the hardcore and punk banners it was formed under, California's Pathology play a very American style of bludgeoning, brutal death metal which derives as much from the slam school as the NYDM and Florida roots influences. I am normally predisposed to think of such a mix as rather uninspiring, since its just so prevalent in forgettable in the case of so many bands, but at the very least these guys know how to pace themselves so that you do feel the hammering begin deep within yourself when they lurch into one of their many, slow grooving segments that feel like neanderthal vs. cannibal warfare.

Perhaps it is the experience of several of the band's members that help them restrain from some stupendously bland songwriting. Vocalist Matti way has performed with a bunch of other small scale death metal acts, the most known of which would be Disgorge. Drummer Dave Astor has played in The Locust and Cattle Decapitation, and with guitarist Tim Tiszczenko he also has another death metal outfit in Being Killed. These are gentlemen who know how to get a crowd moving, and that seems a pretty important factor in how they structure out the material, rarely breaking into any manner of ambitious, technical notation. This is simultaneously the strength and weakness of Legacy of the Ancients, for while its mid to fast range of material creates a welcome balance against the mosh hymns, it also gives you the impression that the band would be a lot better if they would simply 'open up' more often, and drop half the pit chugs from the writing.

A concrete fisting is delivered track after track, first with "Code Injection" and then with "Among Giants", teasing you with a blast before the breakdowns begin to incessantly factor into the festivities. "Abduction" starts with a Cannibal Corpse-like battery, and this is one of the better songs, though it too threads the needle with some dumbfounded moshing. "Afterlife"and "Tower of Babel" fall into this same pattern, but "The Extinction of Flesh" at least offers a more thrash centered rhythm in place of an average death or metalcore breakdown. Some of the tracks, like "Collapsing in Violence" are like one breakdown stretched out across the entire track, perfect for the slamming, windmilling, 18 year old but sadly not that interesting from a writing perspective. Ditto for the title track.

Legacy of the Ancients compensates a little for its dearth of quality riffing with its huge production. The record sounds modern, and enormous, with brick house guitar chugs and traumatic if monotonous guttural vocals that only border on the squeals of some hacked up sow. The riffs are tight enough to exhibit the skill of the musicians, but they rarely do much beyond the expected. The lyrics are thankfully above and beyond the typical gore hound style. They're violent, but centered about archaic religious and occult symbolism. I get the feeling Pathology is meant more for the live setting than the studio, if placed at a proper gig they will cause eruptions of violence within the brutal death or deathcore sect in a very short order. Perhaps the riffs would be a little better if the band slowed down a notch. Since forming in 2006, this is already their 4th album, so a pause might help establish some more interesting chord progressions, in and out of the many grooves. You could definitely come by a band worse than this one for the style they play, a mix of Suffocation, Devourment and Cannibal Corpse, but the flip side is that you could also come by a lot better.

Verdict: Indifference [6/10]

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