Pathology – A Tale of RebirthThursday, 2nd December 2021
A long-standing brutal death metal band, Pathology has undergone plenty of line-up changes over its existence. But currently, the line-up since 2018 has been working hard to push the band to the next level. That work has been quite successful, with their new album The Everlasting Plague being released on Nuclear Blast Records to a wide audience, while it showcases the band’s strongest and most varied work to date. We spoke to vocalist Obie Flett about the band’s more recent history since he joined, the new album, over the top vocals in brutal death metal, and more.
Dead Rhetoric: The band had a big line-up change back in 2018 before you released Reborn to Kill. You were briefly in the band once before, correct?
Obie Flett: In 2010, I did like half a tour with them when they needed a vocalist. I was actually touring with my other band, Inherit Disease, and it was funny because I did a two-weeker with them. I remember I met with the Pathology guys in Denver and then I went back around the States again with them. Back then it was a timing thing. I was just getting married and about to have a kid. They wanted me to join, and I really wanted to because they had some great stuff going on – super awesome tours that were lined up with bands I had been listening to for forever. So I did the tour with them and I kept in touch with Dave [Astor] over the years and he hit me up in 2018 and he asked me to join. He had asked a few times in between, but the timing was never right. My kid is older now, I am divorced [laughs], and I have my own business and I can now maneuver things so that I can run the business while still doing band things. I feel super fortunate to be able to do that.
Dead Rhetoric: So was Reborn to Kill more or less a rebirth for the band?
Flett: Most definitely. It’s just completely revamped. The band stopped touring for quite a few years. There has always been a lot of line-up changes in Pathology. We got together and all four of us clicked super easy. Dave is a good dude, and I know I can be around him for long periods of time. He is super cool and we are both easy going. So we got it all together and got the ball rolling and made some tunes. I think we had a tour lined up, and he was looking for people. Ricky [Jackson] and Dan [Richardson] were both in the band by then, so they were just looking for a solid vocalist. It was perfect timing. As far as being rejuvenated, we are all on the same level now. We all have a good drive to do this thing. The ideas are flowing and it’s good times. We are having fun, and that’s the most important thing.
Dead Rhetoric: Knowing you had to step into Matti Way’s shoes at that point, was there any sort of pressure?
Flett: Yes and no. Matti is one of my idols. I have looked up to that dude since day 1. There’s always a little bit of nervousness when it comes to stuff like that. But I didn’t step in trying to do what somebody else was doing. I wasn’t trying to imitate him – I did my own thing and it didn’t stress me out. But if I really think about it, I could probably get myself really nervous, but I just don’t [laughs].
Dead Rhetoric: How would you compare The Everlasting Plague to Reborn to Kill?
Flett: It’s way different. I think especially with the songwriting, they took it to another level. I don’t think it was even intentional. They ran with ideas and did what they thought was cool and it all came together. It turned out to be a really unique album. Reborn to Kill was more straight-forward and maybe as the songs were written they were trying to stick to a specific format for the band. On this one, the guys were more comfortable to branch out and try new things. Everyone was really positive and open-minded. It came together differently, as far as the sound goes. Different is always better, I don’t like hearing the same sound over and over.
Dead Rhetoric: What’s a favorite track or two from the album for you?
Flett: You know, I can’t say that I have a single favorite song. There are bits and pieces that make me want to throw a chair across the room when I hear them. Then some of them, like the end of “Dirge for the Infected,” that mellow outro – I remember when we were recording…when we left, that last riff stuck in my head for about a week. That was a good thing. If something catches you and sticks with you, it’s important to me. That was the first part that stuck in my head. But I don’t have a single favorite song where I’m like, “Oh, that’s the one!” There are a few that are super brutal that are really awesome, and then there is a ton more atmosphere and it makes it sound movie soundtrack-ish at times. It’s like a journey.
Dead Rhetoric: You are in a genre known for violence and gore. Where you do you pull in lyrical inspiration from?
Flett: All kinds of different stuff. It depends on what I am thinking about. I am really fascinated by sci-fi stuff. I will pull from a sci-fi genre and maybe put a really gnarly twist on it or something. There’s all different places – there’s not one thing I do when I write lyrics. On my iPhone, if something pops in my head, I will put on a recording and just start talking about it. That is how I have started some songs. The way I do things is pretty broad, I just kind of gather bits and pieces from everywhere.
Dead Rhetoric: Something that stuck out to me is that Nuclear Blast has Suffocation, but you don’t see a lot of super brutal, heavy bands on the label. How did you sign in with them?
Flett: That would be a question for Dave. He’s the mastermind and the band manager. He does everything with the labels and that dude works his ass off for this band. I commend him for how hard he works on things. I am not sure how it came together. He talks to all kinds of people, and I know that we played a show in LA maybe two years ago or so. I guess a few people from Nuclear Blast were there, and that show was fucking nuts! I hope they were there, because it was a killer show. I don’t know the specifics, or what prompted them to sign us, but I know we did our best to do as much as we could – tour as much as possible, get out new tunes. As far as not being a more typical band on the label, I think Pathology has been that in a lot of places. Pavement, for example, where we put Reborn to Kill out on. Pathology was signed to Victory Records for a long time too. When you think of Victory Records, you don’t think of brutal death metal. I think the guys like that, sticking out a bit.
Dead Rhetoric: What does the evolution of Pathology look like, from your perspective?
Flett: To be honest, it’s been pretty similar. Because there has been so many line-up changes, but there is a signature sound and certain riffs and timing that you hear it and it’s Pathology. Throughout the years, the line-up would change and that would reflect on the music. There were two guitarists for a while – they did a lot more leads and had a dude that loved to do solos. So there have been solos in some, and then a line-up change would happen and then there would be no solos. But as far as Pathology now, there is a definite evolution from the first album. Like I said earlier, we got the first album out since we knew we had a solid line-up and had an early tour. So we cranked out that first album and that was typical Pathology, I think.
This new album, I don’t know if the guys put in more time…yeah, they did put in more time. At one point the album was almost finished, and I remember Dan saying that it needed something. I think it was very much sounding like Reborn to Kill, and they went back and took apart some songs and rewrote some things, and added some extra stuff. They put some more time in and actually went for something a little extra.
Dead Rhetoric: What’s the challenge in providing a very brutal vocal but not taking it too far into absurdity?
Flett: [Laughs] That is the eternal question for me. It’s hard to figure out until you are there in the studio. You can practice it until you are blue in the face and in the studio, it locks in a moment in time. That’s really your time to really focus and listen in and think about if it is what you want. The guys are sitting there and you wonder if you should do something different. We did that – we would lay down a track and I would put the vocals down and then we would analyze it and potentially redo it. As far as not overpowering it, it was a challenge in this last album. There are types of riffs that I have never done guttural vocals to. It was interesting to figure out what I was going to do in those spots. But I was really happy with the way it came out. It definitely sounds different.
Dead Rhetoric: I feel like with some vocals, it will just lose me. I will be listening along and its so over-the-top and I start wondering if I am supposed to take it seriously.
Flett: Some bands like that I love. There are some that you think you are on the same song, but it’s now four songs later [laughs]. They made it easy for me to not do that in this album. It was so different.
Dead Rhetoric: What are some brutal bands in the underground that you feel deserve a bit of credit at the moment?
Flett: I have a soft spot in my heart for Gorgasm. Those dudes are awesome. Deeds of Flesh – they have been around forever and I have looked up to them forever. They just reformed after losing their guitarist, and I’m looking forward to hearing what they are coming out with. They got their old bass player/vocalist back who hasn’t been in the band since 2011 so I’m looking forward to it. There’s a ton of them out there!
Dead Rhetoric: What’s next for Pathology?
Flett: It depends on what the world does. I really don’t know. We want to do something as soon as possible, but with the pandemic, we have had no clue how long it would be. It’s hard to say. We are definitely going to line some things up as soon as everyone feels comfortable. It’s scary out there, because venues are still shutting down and shows/tours are still getting cancelled. There are bands and people getting COVID. I hope it gets back to normal, and as soon as it does, we will get out there. We have talked about doing things here and there, but this time last year, I would have thought we would have toured by now. It’s hard to say – when people say that it’s time we will be ready.