Perhaps one of the more obscure genres in music is death metal. The pop music machine has deluded the mainstream and pushed more abrasive types of music to the fringe. It is in this outer realm that bands like Spokane's Pathos operate.
From the opening chords of the record, it is evident that the band works on a different wavelength than the rest of the popular norm. It is also clear that they are incorporating different elements into their sound than is typically found in the arena of death metal. The first track opens with a carefully coordinated array of violin and distorted and flamenco guitar that intertwines in a Middle Eastern-type melody. The incorporation of seething, buzz saw-style guitars creates a context for the metal to manifest itself. It is evident this album is not for the faint of heart. Just think The Beloved or Morbid Angel on their deepest, darkest day, multiply the tempo ten-fold and crank the volume.
The band attacks the 10 songs on the album with furious intent and mind-bending dynamics. The dual guitar onslaught of Nathan Humphrey and Jason Griffith combines to produce shredding of the highest order. Their insane timing and precision fit flawlessly into the interplay among the rest of the band members. They use strangely timed breaks and oddly placed acoustic interludes to create unsettling moments in the music. The bottom end is held down masterfully by bassist Abe Kenney -- who uses intricate stylings to fashion more than the typical dud bass lines found on too many records -- and the unearthly speed of Cameron Olson's double bass drum and barrage of cymbals. Released like creeping death over the top of the instrumentation of the underworld, singer Owen Rundquist's demonic delivery is nothing short of haunting. A feeling of depth and despair encircles his vocals and leaves the listener looking for the door.
The production of the album was handled by local knob-turning guru Lee Stoker. With its distorted skulls and angelic figures, the cover art is magnificent. The juxtaposition of this conflicting imagery is one of the major underlying themes on this recording. As Rundquist puts it in the liner notes, "Thanks to everybody who's reminded me of the inherent worthlessness of humanity when I've begun to forget."
Publication date: 12/18/03