Album Dies Irae – EP
Many people have a preconceived notion about what the end of days will look like. Some picture a solar flare engulfing planet earth—quick, easy, clean—while some imagine a Terminator style robot apocalypse, or a zombie infestation. Then, there are the religious proclamations involving judgement day—horns sounding, the rapture, you get the picture. Perhaps the only thing everyone can agree on is that surely it won’t happen in our lifetime, right?
South Floridian progressive metalcore outfit Pathways disagree.
With their Tragic Hero Records debut, the quintet combine scintillating symphonies and barbaric heaviness to create a heralding release profound enough to truly bring about the end of life as we know it. Literally translating to Day of Wrath, Dies Irae is a contemporary iteration of an age-old Latin hymn written to celebrate the purification and nullification of life on earth at the hands of a Lord and Savior. While Pathways may have adapted their sound away from hymnal singing and the Latin language, they have maintained that sense of foreboding and fury—giving listeners a masterfully written piece of metalcore that refuses to wither under the test of time.
Instrumentally, Pathways borrow influences from several renowned artists—Within the Ruins, Veil of Maya and Born of Osiris among them—but still create a sound that is uniquely their own. Everything Pathways create seems to be painted with varying hues of orchestral coordination—from the drumming to the keys and fretwork. Percussionist Wil Lanagan gives listeners more than an earful to keep themselves busy—whether it’s his speedy, technically savvy grooves and blasts on “Miserae,” or the incredible fills that dot the blanks between chugs on the breakdowns throughout the entire release. Lanagan is a muscular heart that keeps the band pumping with fresh, nutrient rich blood, and if the conclusion to “Miserae” or “Famine” isn’t proof of that, then perhaps the epic conclusion, “Extinguish the Stars” will be. Where Lanagan is speedy, looping dizzying patterns with bouts of incredible technicality, bassist Lawrence Drewry is his shadow—adding depth to the more dissonant and devastating portions of Dies Irae, yet backing off and lending atmosphere where need be. Drewry’s contributions may not steal the show, but his presence is absolutely crucial for guitarists Jon Rose and Jentzen Flaskerud. Together, Rose and Flaskerud have no boundaries. From the echo of the introductory symphonic segment on “Miserae” to the masterful playing throughout “Famine” and the stellar, solemn “Extinguish the Stars,” this dynamic duo do not stumble once, writing catchy-yet-creative riffs that dive into devastating breakdowns where need be. “Miserae” may be the greatest example of their writing on the entire EP—but don’t let that fool you: the duo fill all 22 minutes of Dies Irae with incredible musicianship, as do Lanagan and Drewry.
Where Pathways truly gather the fortitude to justify naming their album after a hymn describing Judgement Day is not just in the divine instrumentation, but in Nicholas Scott’s peerless vocal performance. Filling the four full tracks on Dies Irae with incredible variety and brilliant lyrics, Scott takes a sound musical backdrop and adds to it, making it nothing short of incredible. Blending eerie—but crooned and catchy—clean vocals to the mix on “Miserae,” yet dominating on the rambunctious “Thirst for War,” Scott’s range and lyrical content are profound in a time where most bands are content with generic ramblings about religion and lost love. Scott personifies The Day of Wrath down to the core of his existence, roaring with ferocity enough to summon the four horsemen of the apocalypse, bellowing with depth enough to send Cerebrus whimpering back down to Hades.
Pathways take five tracks (or four and an introduction) and paint a tale of despair and devastation that spans twenty two full minutes—an impressive run time for content so dense with masterful musicianship. The quintet prove they are just as adept at songwriting as they are at playing their instruments—which, if you haven’t grasped, they do quite well—using symphonic touches to add atmosphere in between bits of smothering brutality. Even the shortest of the tracks, “Miserae” is an incredible journey—as you can bet that if ancient Latin songwriters had the ability to slap distortion on some eight string guitars, they would have written something dangerously close to this. In a time where we are desperate to avoid the end of the world, Pathways are eager to bring it about—forcing their peers’ styles and sounds to fight for second-best in the process.
For Fans Of: Within the Ruins, Born of Osiris, Veil of Maya, Animals as Leaders
By: Connor Welsh