posted on 1/2008 By:
Just as your grandfather's father used to walk five miles uphill to school every day in the snow with a 30lb backpack slung over his shoulder, there was a time when we metalheads had to basically trudge through obstacles in order to discover our next metal fix. No snazzy interweb to breezily deliver new streaming tunes with the greatest of ease. Nope, for cavemen such as myself, word of mouth and tape trading played an instrumental role, but we also gleaned invaluable potential band information directly from liner notes of albums we already owned, and also from press photos featuring band members we respected flashing shirts from underground and lesser known acts worthy of investigation. It was during this time that I distinctly recall a Napalm Death press photo that featured Barney Greenway sporting a Vicious Rumors shirt -- a band nearly 5,000 shades less brutal than his own. It was that particular snapshot that eventually led me to pick up VR’s early catalog, and I found it to be a very welcome respite from the grind and death that monopolized my eardrums at the time. For the past couple weeks, this Italian prog metal troupe’s debut record has completely rekindled those memories of the early Vicious Rumors material, and it’s now easy for me to understand why the fine folks over at Sensory Records have decided to spotlight this group of talented musicians.
This is the point where I realize I’m not exactly the smartest chimp in the pack. Who the hell focuses a review of a relatively unknown band on another relatively unknown band? The chimp that hasn’t quite figured out how to use a long blade of grass to snake out delicious termites directly from their lair, that’s who. So, allow me to expound (and struggle against the urge to fling feces)…
Much like the Vicious Rumors of yore, Pathosray is extremely adept at melding elements of traditional metal and hard rock within a solid foundation of heavy, fairly complex progressive metal. It also helps that Pathosray vocalist Marco Sandron often sounds like the true reincarnation of one-time VR vocalist, Carl Albert; his vocals are certainly one of the true selling points of this fine debut. Sandron has a wide range that pulls influence from an array of different performers -- from his smooth, Steve Perry-esque lower range (especially towards the end of “Emerald City”) to the aforementioned Albert-styled wailing that matches up beautifully against the more aggressive, progressive metal moments. There are, however, a couple short snippets where his voice might dip a bit too far towards the light end for some, which could draw some criticism from folks who like their prog metal free of anything that could be considered “hair metalish” (the short, quiet instrumental, “In Salicis Umbra”, for example). It certainly doesn’t occur enough to begrime the rest of his excellent performance on this record, so fret not.
The rest of the band deserves accolades here as well -- superior songcrafting delivered with an expertise normally unachieved by a band on a debut record. Hell, based on how dexterously these guys play off one another, one could easily be fooled into believing they’ve been playing together for two decades. A true testament to a band that’s obviously been doing more than their fair share of homework. Tunes sway and bend from sweeping, epic measures to surprisingly heavy prog moments in the blink of an eye, and nothing ever sounds forced or even close to out of place. And even when things are at their lightest (the first half of “Scent of Snow”, for example), the music always seems to find its way back to something you can really sink your teeth into: oodles of savory soloing, crap-tons of fluttering, heavy bass, fastidiously pounded drums, and a surprising amount of aggressive, more traditional riffing (I LOVE the galloping riff that hits at the 50-second mark of “The Sad Game”).
Honestly, there’s not much to pick apart here, folks. I don’t like the way they make the “P” in their logo? Apart from that, the only thing standing in the way of a prog metal fan enjoying the living hell out of this disc is pretty much beyond me. As I mentioned above, there’s the teensiest bit of hair metal flare to endure, and the band could probably stand to spice up the complexity of the keys just a tad, but that’s just me really starting to push buttons. In the end, it’s quite obvious why Sensory gobbled these guys up: they’re a high quality label that’s interested in prog bands that push themselves to the front of the pack, and Pathosray is just such a band. These dudes are gonna make some big waves in this genre, and I’d advise you join them for the ride. Definitely recommended.
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