Pathogenic I: Djentering the Sleeping Mind
If you’ve ever asked me what I’m looking forward to in the future of metal, you’ve probably heard a lot of fanboyish rants about Kelly Shaefer and Steve Flynn working on new Atheist material, you’ve probably heard about Periphery‘s seemingly endless attempt to release their debut, and you’ve probably heard about Pathogenic. I’m particularly excited for Pathogenic’s release because it’s probably my favorite re-interpretation of the groove metal niche founded by Meshuggah thats become so popular over the last year and a half or so, and it excels where others fall short (Rareform, Xerath I), at least in my opinion. The premise of epic djent has excited me since a friend first introduced me to After the Burial, but at this point all that has really culminated is music that mixes the two breeds in painfully gimmicky ways. I feel like Rareform employs it’s Meshuggah influence without purpose and it comes off as uninspired and disjointed, and the Xerath project just didn’t live up to the hype they created for themselves (Chug-Score 4 EVER!).
Fortunately for me, I’ve been able to have a front row seat for a lot of what has transpired and for a lot of what is to come at Pathogenic Headquarters (UMass Lowell, and also in a tiny rural suburb of Worcester), and I have to say that it is very exciting. Pathogenic started as a melodic thrash outfit around 2005, wrote nearly an album’s worth of material, disbanded, reformed as a Tech Death band, wrote nearly an album’s worth of material, and disbanded again. Although they wrote some pretty fun and memorable tunes, they struggled to come into their own sound and as a result seemed to lose interest in their musical direction pretty quickly and as a result went defunct. But in early 2009, drummer Anthony Simone resurrected the band with a Demo titled “Cyclopean Imagery” and began working on filling out a full band and gaining interest in the new sound with quite a bit of success. At this point the demo material has been added to, changed, and just about everything in between since the first demos were made available through Mediafire on their Myspace page a year ago, and that makes it difficult for me to write about the material on the demo itself at this point. The things referenced in this article will be from both the songs that have been featured on their myspace recently, and from files that I have recieved through contact with the band members.
Pathogenic play a crossbreed of groove driven metal, deathcore, and varying melodic influences. That description may bring the (somewhat) recent release by After the Burial to mind, but where After the Burial made songs with Copper and Tin, Pathogenic made Bronze. It’s this ambitious fusing of genres that sets this project apart from many of its peers, and the result is a sound that has a feel of its own. Although they’re not present on the earlier demos released by the band, the addition of clean vocals by Pete Rodericks and screams and relatively strong lyrics by Jake Burns add a sense of polarity that works very well with the already distinctive duality in the music. The most blatant use of these out of all of the songs that they have released is in “Lucidity” which is currently streaming on their myspace and might be their most memorable offering as of yet. At times the newer Pathogenic material sounds like an overhaul of influences that aren’t obscure enough for the listener to mistake them for complete innovation, only they apply enough of their own flare into them to make it sound fresh and different. When the band relies on more typical progressions, the fact that it isn’t wholly unfamiliar works as an advantage, as its constant rhythmic shifting creates a sense of suspense that will keep you bobbing your head along and missing every time on your first listen. That isn’t to say that much of the music is predictable, in fact at times its quite the contrary, for better or for worse. Like I said, Pathogenic is an ambitious undertaking, and not every experiment produces the results it aimed for. Some of the things that work well in some places just don’t have the same effects in others, but for the great majority of what I’ve heard you will enjoy more than you will not. With the constant re-workings the band has been doing, I’m not so sure how many of these will even make it to the final product anyway. That being said, there WILL be a bit too many breakdowns and 808s for some pallates, and there are even some contrived passages that appear here and there, but this release is going to have more working for it than against it and even the more contrived moments don’t come close to the levels of pretention that we have already grown accustomed to in this relatively young sub-genre.
The mix for the CD has also been overhauled since the Demo went up. The drums were recorded using samples on an electric kit that at times faded in the mix and sounded thin and unconvincing. This did not go unnoticed by the band by any means and after tampering with thoughts to record the entire album on his acoustic kit, Anthony decided to just improve the samples and rerecord. The results are better, although I would’ve preferred a full acoustic overhaul. Although there is some uncertainty on my part as far as what will and will not make it to the final album, there are enough high points in the material that has already been presented to ensure that this is something worth looking out for, and for those of you who don’t have a lot of time to spare checking out new bands, at least take a trip over to their myspace and check out “Lucidity I.” The final product will be an opus loosely centered around a dreaming concept entitled Cyclopean Imagery, like it’s preceding demo, and the band will be shopping for labels soon. Look for it, and If they sign to Sumerian, you can hold out for the reissue in 2012 with all of the same flaws!