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Gorgatron - Pathogenic Automation Award winner

Pathogenic Automation
by Chris Hawkins at 09 August 2020, 11:33 PM

There could not be a better time to introduce GORGATRON to your life.  The undercurrent of instability plaguing the nation now from both a medical crisis and a social one adds to just how poignant a moment this is.  The masses need an absorbing, brutal, cathartic release such as only Metal can provide and this band provide it in a highly polished, technically proficient, groove-focused package.  GORGATRON were formed in 2005 in Fargo, North Dakota and “Pathogenic Automation” is their third full-length release.  It is astonishing to think that these guys don’t have a record deal.  Perhaps they want it that way, but please do not think this to be any lesser quality release than a signed act.  That is not the case.  These guys prove they should be in the conversation – boldly so.

Anyone visiting the band’s web site (linked below) will notice in the bio that it states that the band is based around a “love of the riff” approach.  That is more than readily apparent upon listening to this first track, “Atrophy,” which is like a blueprint to modern Death Metal tone and riffing.  These guys are from the old school as you can hear a solid MORBID ANGEL influence particularly in the bass-heavy, abrasive guitar tone and octave riffs like at the 3:12 mark that equally channel “Blessed are the Sick” and some of the slower NILE material from “In Their Darkened Shrines”.  This isn’t Death Metal created to impress a select few in the scene, but rather is meticulously crafted, supremely professional, and casts a wide net to Death Metal fans old and new.  The chugging, palm-muted, frantic riff that starts the song ends it on a blistering note leaving one breathless in its wake.

By the time the second track, “Usurpation,” gets rolling, GORGATRON have you hooked.  I could throw out references to other bands like DYING FETUS, especially in the strict, staccato, palm-muted chords and HATE ETERNAL in the sheer intensity, but really, this is just damn awesome Death Metal.  This is the band I’d like to see up close at the front in order to study the guitar and bass players.  From a musical perspective, they employ dissonance effectively as it is often uniquely resolved or implied as such.  The breakdown riff in the latter half serves as the ideal backdrop for a spellbinding solo, one that is particularly well thought out echoing Dimebag in his experimental moments, and in classic Metal form, after the divebomb, they launch into an even sicker breakdown.  This is timeless, solid Death Metal that exists in its own pocket of the Metal universe, and it is remarkably clear two songs in that GORGATRON is among those elite ranks of bands who are able to mold Death Metal into their own context while remaining true to its key elements.

Having a competent pair of headphones certainly helps one appreciate the superb production.  It is a confrontational, visceral sound aided by the wisdom behind the board tweaking each frequency to perfection.  The result is a full sound, modern, yet not overly processed.  From the ground up, the drums are thunderous with a punchy bass drum that really cuts through the mix and the most clean, crisp cymbal crashes.  Like a lot of Death Metal bands, the bass gets a bit lost in the mix as the guitars themselves are tuned extremely low so it tends to all blend together though when it does pop up, it sounds solid and thick.  This type of Death Metal, though, is all about the riff (having an athletically superior drummer does seal it all together) and the guitar is menacing, tenaciously wrought with each intricately picked riff.  As previously mentioned, it is a low-end-focused sound; however, it never gets remotely muddy.  Also, it isn’t exactly accurate to say that it is all low-end; rather, it is very responsive, conveying intense chugging along with tenuous tremolo passages at some points such as in the fifth track, “Impostor Syndrome,” definitely a highlight.  The following track, “Noxious,” maintains the intensity while delivering a more technical performance proving this band can truly do it all.

When reflecting on the experience delivered through this independently released album, it is impossible to not be thoroughly impressed.  I hear a lot of Death Metal throughout the year and this is in the top tier alongside bands like ABORTED, BLOOD RED THRONE, and MISERY INDEX.  What sets this band apart and solidifies this as a 9/10 is that the band use discretion when sorting out the riffs only picking the very best.  Metal fans from other corners of the genre would also appreciate this as even the most brutal sections employ a high level of musicality.  For traditional folks, I imagine it will be akin to first hearing PANTERA – impressive brutality, intelligently crafted.  This album is that good indeed.  I honestly cannot remember the last independent release to impress me this much.  Hopefully, when things get back to normal, we can catch these guys live for it would be awesome to see them pull this stuff off!

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9


4 Star Rating

1. Atrophy
2. Usurpation
3. Reactor
4. Insurmountable
5. Impostor Syndrome
6. Noxious
7. Pathogenic Automation
8. Frostbitten Amputation
9. Pierced From all Angles
Paul Johnson- Guitars
Matt Johnson – Drums
Neil Stein - Guitars
Karl “Rice Grinder” Schmidt– Vocals
Cameron Dewald – Bass
Record Label: Independent


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Edited 07 December 2022

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