Review: Patterns of Decay – S/T
Although sweet, sweet guitar harmonies and crunchy syncopated riffs are always welcome in ShredViking land, this reviewer is also a big fan of dense, 7-layer cornucopias of noisy, grind-inflected riffs and bludgeoning, battering ram drum displays from Hell (Ov Hell?). My love of the more extreme styles draws a parallel line with my appreciation of the traditional, so I was more than up for the opportunity to switch gears from my listening habits of late for New York’s Patterns of Decay. The band appears more than eager to offer up a heaping helping of those heavy tenets en masse on second LP, Patterns of Decay, out April 15th.
Channeling a strong -core sound rooted in death metal with hardcore flourishes and elements of grind, the quintet deftly balances an experimental streak with more pervasive and prevalent genre archetypes. Clean vocal breaks and melodic crescendos burst forth sparingly, as do brief odd-time sections and breakdowns more in line with the foundations of the band’s chosen style. Interestingly, and positively I would posit, the injection of these ideas seems calculated to add flavor to the songs without overtaking them outright, which can be a real obstacle for bands attempting stylistic gymnastics. The atypical elements are tastefully done and blend well in the overall compositions, adding just enough personality to diversify the proceedings when chromaticism threatens to blur the lines.
Vocally, Christian Contello and guitarist/vocalist Matthew Stirrat maintain an emphasis on the shouted style of vocals, which bring the hardcore comparisons mind, while also broaching the higher and lower ends of the extreme metal vocalist playbook with shrieks and gutturals and all the various permutations between. The performances, while not creating sounds yet unheard, are routinely strong, which really goes for everything on the album. The listener’s threshold for these types of vocals may vary, but given the amount of hardcore-inflected death metal, grind, and mathcore that I have imbibed over the last 20 years, the style doesn’t put me off one bit.
A few songs in, and the playful but heavy vibe of legends The Red Chord kept popping up in my metal mind’s eye, which, if you ask me, is never a bad thing. Although there is a lot going on here at any given time, well-played and with technical flourishes while never crossing that line into “full-tech”, the separation of the various instrumentation and tonal characteristics really help to differentiate these various elements. I appreciate the mid-grind of the guitars, with just enough skronk present to make them feel like they are being played by humans, and a similarly snappy snare and kick sound that serve as the glue and anchor for the compositions. The modern sound with some rough edges is something I am finding myself more and more drawn to as a listener, and some of that ethos is present here.
The LP’s first half is marked by solid songwriting and a more nuanced/varied exploration of the hammers and wrenches (mostly hammers) in Patterns of Decay’s modern metal toolkit, but I found that the album shifts into high gear after bass interlude/instrumental “Rumination”. From here, the remaining 5 tracks pummel with abandon and rarely let up. “Of Famine and Plague” is a concise and focused blast of energy and “Wormtongue” and “Ocean Black” form a late-album punch that shifts from choking and dense heavy sections to fast, thrashier fare. This isn’t to say the first half of the album is bad or lacking, just that by my observation the arrangements seem to tighten up and this helps cross the finish line with some real momentum.
Patterns of Decay has crafted a solid statement with their sophomore self-titled LP. At 52 minutes, it is a long affair that asks a lot of its listeners’ attention, but while some forays into the melodic side of the modern metal sphere don’t strike with the urgency they aim for, the band keeps things interesting enough to warrant further listens, and the album earns its runtime by the end. Dense, modern, with a few left turns to tread and lots of ideas to chew on.
3.5/5 Teeth Machines ov Hell