Pestilence – Obsideo – Candlelight Records – release 11-11-2013
One of the most legendary death metal bands from the Netherlands started life in 1986, mostly influenced by German and American thrash metal. Yet by their second album they had fully changed into their very own style of death metal and they were not content with just keeping in the same sound. Pestilence already did some hefty experimentation with their third album “Testimony of the Ancients” in 1991, but that was just a warming up for the musicalized madness that is “Spheres”. Although far ahead of its time in the tender year of 1993, this album highly polarized the fans. Some saw the genius of it, while others wanted to have nothing to do with it.
In 1994 the band split up, yet it would not be the last we heard of Pestilence. Patrick Mameli, the brains behind the brawn, resurrected the band in 2008 and released “Resurrection Macabre” (RM from now on) in 2009 to show that the Dutch Death legend had returned in full brutal power. 2011 saw the release of “Doctrine” which had down tuned guitars, even more technical skill display and Mameli the sickest screams he’d ever done. Not everyone was as happy with the new album, with a lot of criticism focusing on the aforementioned down tuned guitars and vocal style. Soon Pestilence will release their seventh album Obsideo.
Patrick Mameli – Lead Guitars and Vocals
Patrick Uterwijk – Lead Guitars
Georg Maier – Bass Guitar
David Haley – Drums
The album kicks off with the sounds of someone’s last moments on a hospital bed. Yet when the heart finally stops, “Obsideo” kicks in full-force with high speed guitar riffing, pounding drums and Mameli’s guttural scream. After this assault of the ears the songs slows down considerably into a slow trudge leaving the listener to collect his thoughts and notice the changes from “Doctrine”. The guitars aren’t tuned as low and Mameli has gone back to the vocal style of “RM”, although personally I liked the vocal style of “Doctrine”. We’re not left with a lot of time for reflection before the songs continues full speed ahead into aggressive guitar riffs and then we get a typical Pestilence solo that goes all over the place.
Not a moment of time is wasted before we head into the second song “Displaced” which sounds a lot heavier than the first track. Low tuned guitars slowly sweep across the sound, trying to hide the drummer’s technical and rather catchy work. The solos traded off by the guitar players show off the madness going on in the mind of the recently deceased, moments before his dying breath.
As if the prior songs did not showcase enough technical skill, “Aura Negative” starts off with the guitars battling the rhythm section for the sickest sounding intro of the song. Like most of the album it keeps trading off fast and slow passages in such a way that you’d almost forget that you were listening to a different pace 5 seconds ago. Every song is a display of skill and changing patterns.
I would say that the songs are more diverse than on RM, which I felt had its number of ‘one trick ponies’, yet more easily accessible than on “Doctrine”. It’s still so-called musician’s music, yet the songs can still be enjoyed by those who aren’t even able to play a single note. Overall it still carries the same sick sound since RM and in that lays my biggest critique. In the past Pestilence was a band that managed to sound different with each album, introducing new elements. This new album actually feels relatively ‘safe’. Like I said earlier it’s more accessible than “Doctrine”, but it doesn’t really bring anything new to the table. Listening to the previous albums again, switching between albums on the fly, I often found myself thinking I was listening to one album while it was actually another one. It’s not a mediocre album by far, I’d hazard saying that it’s quite the opposite. Yet at times it felt like it was a remix of older work and despite enjoying the music I found myself wanting more diversity.
There will always be fans hoping that Pestilence would cook up another album of “Sphere”-like proportions, but those fans will have to be disappointed. “Obsideo” is firmly rooted in the new millennium and will keep you searching to find all details in the songs. The production is top notch and brutal and the skills of the musicians are unquestionable. Yet at the same time it feels rather safe and too well-known.
- Aura Negative
Score: 4.1 out of 5
Text by Robert Popovic