February 26, 2009 | , , , , | 3.5

Flatline, Pave the Way

Flatline: Pave the Way

I’d never heard of Flatline prior to receiving their latest album Pave the Way. I can tell you, however, that I’ve been playing the fuck out of it since it showed up in the mail a couple of weeks ago. The music on this disc isn’t anything life altering or revolutionary, but it certainly has that something special to make each and every listen just as enjoyable as the first.

Perhaps it’s the group’s brand of thrash — similar to Hemlock‘s latest No Time For Sorrow — that combines influences ranging from Pantera and Machine Head to Lamb of God. That statement really doesn’t do the album justice as it’s not just a regurgitation of what you’d expect from that combination. Flatline leave any mimicry at the door as their take on bludgeoning thrash is catchy, creative and just hellified damn fun to listen to.

Guitars combine moments of chugging modern metal, old school thrash and melodic death metal with great aplomb — never overdoing it, nor leaving anything out when needed. Rhythmically, the drums and bass are on par with what one would expect from the genre. Pummeling blasts, catchy fills and thick tones set the tone for the album. The vocals are aggressive and relatively midrange, but do reach into the deeper end of the guttural pool, as well as a few moments of cleaner delivery. Overall, the band’s sound is clean and appropriate for aggressive heavy metal.

Blessed By Death
“Blessed By Death” opens up the album with pounding drums and chugging guitars. There are some melodic riffs here and there but for the most part this one’s a bruiser with a few tempo changes to keep you on your toes. This one has a nice mid-tempo galloping thrash feel to it and will have you pumped for the rest of the disc. The lead at 2:32 has a nice rock vibe to it.

Generations Fall
The second song keeps the head banging going in full force with a decent scream and jackhammer drumming. The guys settle into a chugging groove with lots going on in the guitars before another series of pile driving drums just before the one minute mark. There’s a brief slow down with melodic guitars and light drumming at the 1:30 point that lasts about 20 seconds or so. The layered vocals in the chorus offer some nice depth and variation.

“Collapse” is another chugging, thrashing monster of a track. Heavy handed drumming and driving riffs push you along briskly into a left cross consisting of sweeping hooks and rhythmical blasts. Several tempo shifts will have you jumping around the room shouting along with the chorus.

Dying Breed
I love the opening guitar work to “Dying Breed” especially as it transitions into massive riffing and thundering drums. This one has a slower overall pace to it, but hits just as hard. The chorus will have you shouting along in no time. This is one hell of a catchy song. The two minute mark has a nice up tempo shift with some sweet drum work that followed by a nice lead. Have I mentioned just how infectious this damned song is?

“Nefarious” steps up the evil a bit with an old school flavored, mid-tempo thrash pace. The vocal delivery is also cranked up a bit to match the furious drum work. It’s definitely one of the more aggressive songs on the album. Flatline have done a decent job of changing things up to keep the album fresh from track to track. Hell, the solo at 1:18 is evidence enough of that. My only complaint with this song is that it’s too short — gimme more!

The Passing
This next one starts out with some sweet guitar work as the rest of the band builds up momentum behind it and settles in to a decent head banging, chugging groove. the pace and feel of the song changes abruptly as the vocals come in around the 40 second mark. It’s a bit more in your face with a chaotic feel — which only creates an interesting dynamic with the cleaner vocal delivery in the chorus. There’s a heavy assed breakdown at 2:30 that will have you snapping your neck along with the band.

“Deleted” starts off a bit slower as chugging riffs and steady drumming fade in, building up to a sweet thrash riff at :25. There’s some nice melodic elements weaving in and out of drum blasts and fills on this one that gives is an interesting feel. It’s not my favorite song, but the lead just before the three minute mark kicks ass.

God As My Witness
Light guitar work starts this one off with some whispered vocals for the first 35 seconds or so before light drums come in. The track starts off like a ballad, but thankfully shifts into a song full of forlorn angst with pile driving drums and melancholic guitars. It’s a pretty good track that definitely breaks up things in terms of the style band has been running full speed with scissors firmly in had.

Worn Thin
Rapid fire drums and slick riffing get this one chugging along at a decent gate. This one has sprained neck written all over it — not so much for the songs speed, but for the massive groove to it. I love the swirling guitars throughout this one as manic blast after manic blast pummel you from every direction. There’s a slick, layered lead just after 1:50 that’s pretty damned impressive.

The final track on the album is much more aggressive that the previous couple of tracks. It’s a hell of a way to end out a pretty damned good album. The vocals are bit more guttural and deeper here and there as the drums carry your battered corpse to the song’s finale. The breakdown at 3:20 is one of the heavier sections on the album.

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Catchy hooks and melodies combined with bludgeoning riffs and rhythms are only certain to do one thing — cause you to leave this album in your player for much longer than you should. Flatline‘s brand of thrash tinged heavy metal is infectious and made for rocking the hell out. Buy this album, play it repeatedly and destroy.

Favorite Tracks:
All of them

Additional Notes: