Pathetic Being

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Poland's Sceptic (yes, that's the way they spell it) returned to action with their second collection of technically proficient death metal in 2001's Pathetic Being. Introduced by an old school, acoustic guitar piece (think vintage Sepultura), the album soon explodes into a surprisingly accomplished barrage of ferocious riffing, manic rhythms, and surprising time changes. Powered by the guitar duo of Jacek Hiro and Czesiek Semla, complex tracks like "Ancient Portal," "Only Lies," and the instrumental "Particles of Time" aspire to the progressive thrash songwriting of latter-day Death in no uncertain terms. In fact, monster drummer Maciek Zieba's inventive percussive work points directly to Death's final masterpiece, Sound of Perseverance, and vocalist Michal Senajko's venomous rasp is also very reminiscent of Chuck Schuldiner. Yet despite these obvious points of reference, there's no denying Sceptic's own merits and well-developed songwriting touch. The album's centerpiece, the multi-faceted "Ancestor of All Powers," for instance, traverses an incredibly wide array of influences, even featuring a solo bearing an uncanny resemblance to Yngwie Malmsteen's neo-classical stylings. Completed by a cover of the old Nocturnus chestnut "Arctic Crypt," Pathetic Being offers an entertaining throwback to the sounds of yesteryear.

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