In the annals of brutal death metal, few bands have a profile as large or as indelible as Pathology’s. With nine albums on their resumes since 2006, including their new self-titled one, they essentially followed an annual release schedule until the three years that have now passed since Throne of Reign. Despite the passage of those years, the line-up has remained intact: Dave Astor, the only consistent member of the band since its inception, is still behind the kit; Tim Tiszczenko still wields the axe in a way that dispenses with the need for a bass player; and the beastly Matti Way remains in control of the vocal onslaught. In other words, the triumvirate who reunited with 2013’s Lords of Rephaim are still in harness together.
If you take the long view of Pathology’s career, you could argue that they’ve been marching toward greater degrees of intricacy and stylistic flare within a genre known for its primitive, gore-soaked, head-smashing heaviness, arguably reaching a zenith in their progress with Throne of Reign. And so what has happened in the intervening three years? And could the band’s decision to self-title their new album after that stretch of time be taken as a sign of a re-start or a re-set?
Well, rather than barge into a review of the entire album, let’s just stick to “Shudder” — which is the track we’re premiering today.
At one level, the song is relatively stripped down, with an emphasis on cold, deliberate, shuddering butchery (no pun intended), yet it’s not without nuances — and it turns out to be insidiously infectious.
Matti Way’s subterranean gurgles sound like an essentially interrupted regurgitation of recently consumed bone and viscera. The core riffing in the song is prominent in the mix, charging ahead like a viciously chugging locomotive, segmented by variations in the fretwork that lead to bursts of buzzing frenzy, freakish squeals, brutal braying, and atonal slam hammering. All the while, Astor’s drumming is almost more felt than heard, with a pneumatic driving pulse that’s natural-sounding, shorn of the mechanistic sheen (but not the machinelike precision) that has marked the drum tone on some previous albums.
And to repeat, it’s a really catchy beast.
But this is only one song, and for those interested in exploring further what that three-year gap has spawned, two others have premiered previously — the two opening tracks, “Lamentation” and “Dolorous” — and we’ve installed a Bandcamp stream of both of those along with our own premiere.
Pathology is a 10-track campaign of devastation. If you couldn’t tell, the cover art was created by Pär Olafsson. The album will be released by Comatose Music on July 21, 2017.