Pathogen is a death metal band hailing from South East Asia, the Philippines. Pathogen is amongst a few metal bands in the area to attain international media coverage, making the band somewhat special. The band plays old-school death metal with tons of catchy riffs and blast sections. Some of their prior material, including Blasphemous Communion, are hard to come by, so I’ve chosen to share some of my thoughts on the band’s material that fans can still find at Bandcamp. Nine Circles fans who want to discover one of Southeast Asia’s best-kept secrets will want to read further.
Forged in the Crucible of Death
It sounds like Pathogen recorded this album on a one-take. It’s clear that they didn’t want to simply relegate the drums to a minor role. The drums are therefore especially loud, and the riffs sound somewhat as though they were behind the drums in the mix. This must be an unorthodox approach for most bands to consider, but the 80’s and 90’s death metal progenitors were known to use this same style. Since necro production went vogue for black metal, it helped change the recording technique used in both black and death metal sub-genres. Pathogen uses the stateside approach employed by Floridians such as Morbid Angel and Obituary. The riffs are simple, catchy and familiar, taking some of the best aspects of 90’s death metal and rehashing it into whole songs that flow so easily you wouldn’t suspect hearing some of those same riffs before. You’ll never want to hit the stop button while this record’s playing. The songs are catchy and easy to enjoy. Fans of death metal who can’t quite appreciate the labyrinth psychosis that dissonant death metal purveyors Portal sound like will find an interest in Pathogen’s breed of death metal on Forged in the Crucible of Death.
Lust of Evil
Lust of Evil stays with the same approach Pathogen is infamous for. The production values allow for the drums to sound blunted much more than on Forged in the Crucible of Death. The band uses more three chord transitions on this EP, showing a strong punk rock influence. The songs easily achieve songwriting dynamics that lead to repeat helpings of main riffs and transitions. The solos wail frantically in lead guitar segments. The riffs make more than a few cameos without being overplayed to the chagrin of the listener. If you liked Forged in the Crucible of Death, Pathogen doesn’t experiment with their songwriting technique that could alienate fans of that album after listening to this one. This is largely an EP with two bonus covers. Both cover song choices blend in with the rest of Lust of Evil’s sound and approach to recording.
Miscreants of Bloodlusting Aberrations
Pathogen again sound like they recorded the album on a one-take. The production is suitably raw, but the bass guitar lines do reinforce the bass drum hits on the album. The breakdowns here are highlighted by catchy riffs and are quite unlike those breakdowns used in death core albums in the early 2000s. The riffs may sound simple and somewhat familiar in the sense that you might have heard them before, but the album is listener-friendly and accessible. The band obviously want to pay homage to old school death metal. Miscreants of Bloodlusting Aberrations may seem like just another album in Pathogen’s discography, but while it is consistent with their style and sound, the album is also the least enjoyable in their body of work so far. So old and raw, you might find barnacles and moss covering your CD copy of this album. If this album strikes you as classic death metal, I might just disagree. But then I would also belabor in argument that you are also likely to enjoy their other releases much more if that were the case.
Ashes of Eternity
Pathogen come out swinging on Ashes of Eternity. Their death metal style shows little experimentation, perhaps the guitar tone being the exception. Ashes of Eternity is the band’s latest album. Fans who’ve liked their prior efforts won’t mourn the band’s approach, as the band clearly incorporate old influences and prior output in consistently enjoyable outtakes. Pathogen knows what their fanbase wants, and they demonstrate the knack for accessible and catchy songwriting chops on this album. Clearly, old-school death metal has been on a decline as of late, with genre-benders combining black and death metal in many instances throughout the scene. Pathogen doesn’t make a lot of wholesale changes to their songwriting style, borrowing some riffs and cutting and pasting them into new songs that breathe new life into the compositions.
For all things Pathogen visit their Facebook page. Stay tuned and follow Nine Circles for more coverage of the international underground extreme metal scene from yours truly.
– Al Necro