Flidais – Pathogen Review

I have been waiting for this one for a long time. Way, way back in late 2016, when I had only been with the staff for less than 6 months and reviewing EP’s was not yet outlawed, I picked up Kazador by Flidais, a bite-sized portion of energetic prog-power with a cover so lilac as to be blinding. I enjoyed it quite a bit, thanks to the snappy hooks and enthusiastic vocal performance, and ever since I’ve been on the lookout for a proper debut full-length. Well, a plump 6 years in the making, that release is finally upon us. And though I had cooled on the vocals since 2016, I had faith that a proper debut would smooth out the bumps and play to the band’s strengths.

Alas, how my faith was torn asunder in cruelty and despair. While I generally try to review every album on its own merits, it’s hard not to hold it up to a predecessor that was so much better. The vocals were, in retrospect, not particularly strong, but they had a rough, almost punk energy that fit well with the rapid-fire hooks pumped out by the guitars.1 What they wisely refrained from were long, sustained notes they didn’t have the technical skill to perform (most tracks but most prominently on “Virus” and “Calamity”), spoken word sections I can only describe as constipated (“Darkness,” “Virus” again) or heartfelt ballads that fall flat (“Despair”). That punky energy, meanwhile, has evaporated altogether. Too many of the new riffs are rote and uninteresting, serving only as a vehicle for the vocals. You can still tell where the more inspired material sits, but it all feels like it should be played faster, as if someone accidentally left the playback speed slider at 75%.

When things click, though, you can at least tell how it could have been good. The old unbridled passion is much stronger on “Reprisal” with a few excellent riffs and solos, even though the piano interlude sneakily makes off with the momentum halfway through. “Outbreak” floors the gas as much as the band can muster with a Priest-like thrashy riff injection. But before long, the spotlight swings back onto the vocals, and there are few if any redeeming qualities there. The less demanding sections at are bearable, but screams careen way off key and torpedo any goodwill the instrumentation might have been able to build.

I might be putting a lot of emphasis on the vocals here, but so does the album. There is not a shred of balance to the mix: the vocals are twice as loud as anything else, grabbing all the attention whenever they pipe up and leaving none for the much less unpleasant instrumentation. Even listening past that, there’s something a bit off about the master, as the rhythm section sounds rather clinical and can barely muster any impact. The technical performances there are actually quite decent, and the bass has a scant few moments to shine, but it’s hard to appreciate when it sounds so neutered and is constantly shouted over.

Pathogen is worse on every single metric compared to Kazador. The riffs are no longer catchy, the vocals have gotten worse, and it seems like the band took the wrong turn at every crossroads, from songwriting to production. Perhaps I should have seen it coming. After 24,000 pandemic albums, another one is just the first in a long line of bad ideas. But I couldn’t let that keep 6 years of anticipation down. Alas, whilst I have grown more critical, Flidais has grown less good. I’m still hoping the band can turn all this around someday, but I will stop waiting by the phone for it.

Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 256 kbps mp3
Label: Self-released
Websites: flidaismusic.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/flidaismusic
Releases Worldwide: January 27th, 2023

Show 1 footnote

  1. My thoughts might be going to punk because the vocal timbre brings Rise Against to mind.
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