Swedish melodic death metal the Australian way
Flying the flag high for metal on Australia's west coast (Perth to be exact) is the melodic death metal quintet Pathogen. Their debut long player, Bloodline, has been a long time not only coming, but also in the making as well. Formed in 1995, this quintet released their first demo titled Tyranny Of Hatred a year later which was followed by another demo, Nightfall, in 1998. In 2000, the epic eight minute single Shallow was recorded for inclusion on the Perth metal compilation Metal From The Bottom Of The Earth and 2RRR's Underearthed Australian Metal Compilation. It also received airplay on our national radio network Triple J and also Sydney's 2RRR. In 2002, it was time to begin work on their debut which contains material that had been written and refined over the course of their existence. Now, some three years later in 2005, Bloodline has finally seen the light of day.
The oddly titled instrumental intro ... offers some suggestion as to what Pathogen is all about. Melodic clean guitars lead into what soon becomes a fuller piece backed with distortion and thumping drums that switches moods towards the end in an up tempo manner that continues with Identity Theft. Strains of Opeth ring through as it kicks off and instantly impressive are Mike Lenane's brutal and fitting vocals. You like your metal to mix brutality and beauty? Then this track is a damn fine representation of what it sounds like when done well. One of the shiners on this album is the Carcass like Beyond Repent with its excellent song structure that features no end of catchy riffs and killer vocals. Bleeding Eye sounds like it has come from Death's Leprosy and Spiritual Healing eras which can only mean that it's a full on metal assault. Easing the lead foot off of the aggression pedal is the no less heavy Fallen Kind with a simple clean guitar intro and timely drums which soon turns to distortion and blood curdling vocals.
Shallow is well versed in the ways of melodic Swedish death metal of recent years and the Opeth inspired mid section is pure aural bliss showcasing just how dynamic these guys can be. Eviscerated and C.O.W. draw on Carcass' later material (think Heartwork) with the later coming across not quite as strongly as the former. Nightfall is tinged with doom laced sadness through out and features an elegant lead break that Mikael Ã…kerfeldt would be proud of. What could almost be mistaken for a simple Load-era Metallica riff drives Bleed My Soul (Pt.1) but an unexpected change of tack early on asserts the tracks heaviness through to its conclusion. Warchild thumps along with pounding drums and the epic Tyranny Of Hatred shows a more traditional death metal growl in Lenane's voice perfectly matched to its predominantly crawling pace. The equally odd instrumental outro ... rounds out the album with a sombre and dark acoustic guitar piece. If anything, I think the album should only have had one track called ... and that is the final track which really would have been better placed as an instrumental somewhere in the middle of the album for more effect. But that's just me.
Pathogen have done Perth to death with shows over the last ten or so years and now it is time for the rest of the country to hear just how good these guys are. There are a few moments here and there in which they lose their identity as they blur the lines of originality, but they are certainly not the only band guilty of that. Over time, they've honed their art and song writing skills making Bloodline a fine example of melodic death metal and an even finer example of Aussie metal.
(Prime Cuts Music/MGM Distribution)