By August Edwards
Albuquerque progressive rock band Patema seizes idealization from skill with their debut album Fathom, to be released October 31, 2019.
Fathom is about loss, innocence, and exquisite musicality. The four artists recorded on this album—all in their early twenties—have put forth everything they know about professionalism in music to project the image they wish to become.
Vocalist Jaden Lueras sings straightforward lyrics that are enhanced by his striking delivery; he coats each syllable in an authoritarian resin. Lueras also kills on lead guitar, with guitarist Jesse Orion beside him to stir up a blitz of harmonic riffs. Certain repetitive vocal and instrumental phrases make for a sort of glorious entrapment, like the feeling of breath condensation inside a rubber Halloween mask.
Hardcore-inspired drummer Jesse Goldstein and classical-oriented keyboardist Thomas Larson combined could be compared to the gothic metal band Type O Negative. Goldstein’s captivating heavy-handedness makes Fathom angry and believable as an album scaling the anxiety of loss.
Chemical engineering of the track “Anathema” detonates adrenaline. Lueras’s voice puts the listener in their place; “You stand by and watch as the sheep are slaughtered / The oppressive hand looms overhead.” “Anathema” bulldozes futility and sets fire to the ruins.
“Reflections” is effervescent with angular rhythms. This sonic spaceship-trek feels like triumph; however, with lyrics referring to a “reflection of internal atrophy,” it is about how the self can deceive and wither.
“Technicolor” is a blissful instrumental; a nine-and-a-half minute dreamscape. The word “technicolor” refers to the flamboyance of an object or idea. The Greek root techne means art or discipline at its truest, arriving at a point that cannot be reached by other means. With “Technicolor,” Patema nods to their grasp of technicality, whether deliberate or not. The track is waterfalls and hail; soft moments of cymbal kisses laced with slick seconds of hair-metal guitar licks. It is a headbanger at the least, and laser beams shooting through clouds at the most.
Despite all its bright guitar, Fathom still bites and has melancholy seeping like venom to veins. The listener is left remembering a past that never was, while longing for a future that could never be. “Once Upon a Burial” begins delicately before stony lyrics hit: “You belong here with me / I wish it were that easy.” Deceptively frank, Lueras’s voice challenges the depth of the meaning. Suddenly, something shallow has mountainous texture, like scarred tree bark that is sap-spackled and impossible to get off your hands. All the crooning of loss and self-criticism cannot cover the fact that Patema wants the listener to know they know what they are doing. There is stubborn strength in every movement of every song: resilience in dealing with alien terrain. Fathom is mobilization when longing is the vital spark that kicks the body into action.