Pathogen - Bloodline
Prime Cuts Music
Melodic Death Metal
13 songs (61:26)
Release year: 2005
Pathogen, Prime Cuts Music
Reviewed by Ken

When one thinks of melodic death metal’s roots, Sweden would likely come to mind. And that would essentially be true, though it’s simply the accepted and widely believed answer. A world away, Australia’s Pathogen has studied well the teachings of Sweden’s melodic death metal masters. Upon hearing Bloodline, their debut full-length, it’s hard to imagine the band comes from that unlikely locale.

The band formed in 1995 and quickly released two demos, Tyranny Of Hatred (1996) and Nightfall (1998). It took the band seven more years to release anything other than a single song, “Shallow,” in 2000. The band never broke up during that period, they just chose to hone their skills and evolve as musicians. The result is thirteen solid slabs of melodic death metal with a little bit of standard death metal and a hefty dose of aggressive thrash. Five songs from the Nightfall demo, and two songs from the Tyranny Of Hatred demo, have been re-recorded for Bloodline.

The album opener is an instrumental by the “name” of “…” (an ellipsis), a great two-and-a-half minute melodic dirge that leads into the blistering “Identity Theft.” The first true song on the album is a brilliant example of what melodic death metal should be; there’s a heavy mid-paced groove broken up by melodic interludes and death metal runs, and throat-shredding vocal work that harkens back to Whoracle-era In Flames. All the same can be said about “Beyond Repent.” They’re followed by “Bleeding Eye,” a song showcasing more of the same, but at a faster pace littered with blastbeats. The first truly melodic song is “Fallen Kind,” similar to In Flames“Moonshield.” The seven-minute plus epic “Shallow” acts almost like a bridge between the first half of the album and the second. The song itself is a text book stunner, offering everything from brutal heaviness, to beautiful acoustic passages, grooves aplenty, and sick vocals that slowly build to an explosive crescendo.

Here the album begins to shift directions. “Eviscerated” comes out swinging like a lost Kreator track, more thrash than anything else and it's a killer. More thrash groove permeates from “C.O.W.”—formerly titled “My Little Cow.” “Nightfall” is a poignant melodic piece, carried by an outstanding solo. The final three songs are speed bumps in the flow of the album. Neither song is bad by any means, but they’re each a step down from the previous tracks. “Bleed My Soul, Pt. 1” has its fair share of moments, but is marred in spots from a simple groove that fails to fully grab the listener by the throat, like the previous tracks. “Warchild” follows a similar path, but it’s a better song overall. The last real song on the album is the one that disappoints me the most; “Tyranny Of Hatred” takes six minutes to kick in—and that then only lasts about a minute—but at that point it’s too late, the rest of the song just putters along with a slow, pounding groove with vocals more like a death metal growl than a melodic death metal scream. It just doesn’t completely work for me. Like the opening intro, the album closes with another great instrumental of the same name, this one all acoustic.

Bloodline is a great album, make no mistake. The biggest flaws come from songs written ten years ago—or close to that—which makes me wish the band just let some of those songs go in favor of newer music. However, some killer tunes have come from those early demos as well, namely “Beyond Repent,” “C.O.W.” and “Nightfall,” and, like I mentioned, even those that I feel are flawed are not bad songs. Hopefully Pathogen won’t take another seven years between releases; I’d like to hear what they come up with on an album of all new material. As it stands, Bloodline is, for the most part, a great album of old school melodic death metal in the tradition of early In Flames, Dark Tranquillity and At The Gates.

Sadly, the album isn’t that easy to find in the US. At the suggestion of Aiden (Pathogen’s guitarist), the cheapest I found was from Singapore’s Pulverised Records (a great, honest label). I went through their eBay Store and was able to acquire it for a total of $16, about $10 less than most other places that were selling it. The price is well worth it.

AUDIO: Identity Theft, Beyond Repent, Shallow, Fallen Kind and Bleeding Eye

Note: In time these links will likely becoming outdated.

Killing Songs :
Identity Theft, Beyond Repent, Bleeding Eye, Shallow and Eviscerated
Ken quoted 80 / 100
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