MYTHOSPHERE – Pathological (2022)REVIEW

Thee idolatrous affectation, and these ides away from insanity. — The lasting harm which comes beyond intensifying waves of public extremism, zealotry in cold abundance, is the scatter of minds to the wind and away from rational personal philosophy. This dying art of critical thinking in well-reasoned sidling with spirituality begins to feel like dying idyll from more sophisticated and proud generations who’d easily afforded education and found purpose in the wry promise of merit through earned capital. The increasing number of irrational “Us versus them” arguments proposed en masse today devalue fresh generations to paste beneath the bulldoze of the not-so-few fanatical, a dangerous collective without history or purpose beyond harm of they who are not as others. The history of heavy metal as a cultural phenomenon reflects haven for passionate individualism by way of collective embrace between those existentially questioning, if you’ll pardon my championing of the whole sub-genre back into core purpose the point to be made here is that revealing the actors in bad faith, resisting the subjugation of others and raising loudest sense above mass hysteria is among the most core duties of the heavy metal musician. In this sense Maryland-based heavy/doom metal quartet Mythosphere arrive duty-bound to reason, kitted with checks-and-balances to weigh an insane world out of its panicked, greed n’ grief stricken survivalist mania. ‘Pathological‘ not only inhales deep of traditional purpose but exhales its own beauteous oaken timbre’d heavy psychedelic rock, ‘epic’ heavy metal, and tinge of progressive doom metal character which amplify beyond the sum of these traits unto an inspiringly realized and impassioned work which affirms, mourns and delights like nothing else.

Of course this is not a complete bolt from the blue, there is yet a mountain of precedence supporting Mythosphere‘s efforts which represent the path beyond the vastly underrated and sublimely tuneful Beelzefuzz, a vision shared between songwriters Dana Ortt and Darin McCloskey. ‘Pathological‘ also comes fresh off the momentum of what I’d consider one of the finest records of the last couple decades ‘Consequence of Time‘ per Pale Divine with similar production values and fineries in hand, though this is a different gig and vibe in general. Technically formed in 2020 as they built upon skeletal features that core line-up would soon include original Fates Warning guitarist Victor Arduini (Entierro, Arduini/Balich) and bassist Ron McGinnis (Thonian Horde, Pale Divine) with each addition fully infused into the final result rather than simply arriving in session. The result of their work is, well, perfection in the sense that this gorgeously high fidelity recording and singular personae amplify the great works of equally thinking and feeling heavy metal within for a pensive yet empowering ~36 minute roll. I won’t say that it’d been a sure thing all along, I’m not such a ridiculous fanatic (!), but when the video released for “King’s Call to Arms” about four months ago the rare fuckin’ magic of their work was glaring loud, bright and the skull-wobbling body high it’d provided hasn’t let up yet.

Pathological‘ ultimately muses upon the human capacity for empathy despite the deterministic and oft callous effect belief (be it religious dogma, politics, philosophy etc.) has upon the increasingly polarized individual today, suggesting that there is sense and benevolence to be found in the realm when folks approach one another ready to the do the work of challenging their beliefs for the sake of coexistence within reason. My interpretation of the greater conversation, of course, though there are separate but not unrelated moments of mourning, remembrance, and cleverly wrought imagery that mystifies otherwise the title track provides a somewhat direct thesis. With these themes in mind and a thread of progressive heavy psychedelic rock running through many of the core rhythmic phrases from the band it’d be fair to see connections made between the prog-doom of yesterday, the dark introspection of mid-70’s heavy rock, and a host of influences beyond but hey, at this point these artists each have a well-developed personality of their own which stretches beyond vague comparison. If you’re familiar with McCloskey and Ortt‘s work you are likely already fluent in this sophisticated yet classic rhythmic language though Arduini‘s elaboration of phrase and various use of acoustic guitars help to frame each piece into something a bit more widescreen, or, ‘epic’ for lack of a better word. For the uninitiated, expect heavy metal that is equal parts doomed, triumphal, searching and incensed.

Side A is the major impact of the release and grand introduction of Mythosphere begins with four single-worthy pieces in a most impassioned block, the emotional impetus of ‘Pathological‘ appearing in rousing succession. “Ashen Throne” finds the band grinding away with their dredge-heavy rhythm guitar tone, a seeming mix of vintage overdrive and warmed analog gear humming within the Noel Miller captured and Arthur Rizk mastered buzz to start, though the listener would be have to be deaf to miss Ortt‘s ability to carry a tune into orbit and tell a damned story, needless to say we kick into the album with an unforgettable piece which does well to introduce the soaring and spirited bustle of the band with a grand note. The aforementioned single “King’s Call to Arms” follows and to start I’d found it impossible to ignore the absolute growl of the bass guitar tone, its thunderous spikes seemingly rendered in three dimensions and threatening to melt the glue on my old speakers even when harmonizing within the dreamier rescinded gnarls of the main chorus. Ortt‘s verses leading into ~3:15 when the leads kick back in almost feels conversational in the moment, or, at least emphasized the natural interplay between the directive of the vocals being particularly enhanced by beautifully set leads and made bigger when the acoustic guitars pull back in at the end of the piece. From the inspired rhythm guitar work which deeply colors the moody prog-heavy groove of “For No Other Eye” to the the grand feature of the aforementioned galloping and creeping second single “Pathological” I could certainly go on finding ten favorite moments from each piece of the first half of the album, but it should suffice to say they’ve blown my mind, left me thinking and feeling along with.

Dark stars hang above. — It’ll just as well sound trite in passing observation but Mythosphere trade some of the conflicted and distraught doomed temperament of Side A for something a bit more traditional heavy metal focused on Side B, though this second set of four pieces are shorter they lack none of the detail and tact found elsewhere on the album. Whomever arranged the keyboards for this record deserves some praise for their work throughout though I’d found the extra touch applied to “Walk in Darkness” especially helped the transition into this more charging, steeled side of the band feel natural. “Star Crossed” hits upon both mid-70’s Priest and the stonier side of Pentagram by my ear with its ‘Sin After Sin‘ worthy progression, biting guitar tone and wah-solo bridging the gap. I suppose “No Halo” might’ve seemed out of place with its brassy, barn-burning heavy rock riffs but it only adds to the still-glowing energy of the full listen. It almost suggests they’d been ready to cut into a whole ‘nother thread before “Through the Night” completes the thought at just the right time. The emotional crux of Side A is far too perfectly set in terms of the running order to interrupt anyhow. Again, the full ride through ‘Pathological‘ might feel front-loaded to start but despite being more succinct in their construction of the last few pieces the thread is well sustained.

Just as I begin to lose my mind considering the wealth of music and art I’ve gorged on somewhat unsatisfactorily throughout 2022 Mythosphere‘s debut reminds me exactly where my center is, not only in their championing of critical thought and empathy but within palpably emotional and passionate heavy music in general. There is an earnest substance and, like, riffs to be found herein which is all the more rare for its lucid and organic mastery confidently on display throughout. There just wasn’t any other record that’d so completely made the “argument” for heavy metal, and for a bit of goddamned composure this year. Plenty of records made me think, plenty more made me feel yet these fellowes have done both while intoxicating all senses with deeply memorable music. There’ll be no talking me down from a highest possible recommendation.

Highest recommendation. (100/100)

Rating: 10 out of 10.
LABEL(S):Cruz Del Sur Music
RELEASE DATE:November 18th, 2022

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