Review Summary: Pestilence Empire is a highly underrated achievement in modern European Death Metal, and breaks all the stereotypes binding the genre currently.1 of 1 thought this review was well written
Exmortem aren't a very popular band. I had to create their band entry, as well as this album's entry before I could write this review. And this, in short, is utter travesty. Pestilence Empire is a monolith of death metal. Brilliant drumming, intense vocals that don't sound utterly stupid, and evil, speed-picked guitar are terms that come to mind when I think of Exmortem. However they have not seen the light of day in the scene, and they are well-deserving of it.
As previously stated, Pestilence Empire is simply stunning. Considering I stumbled upon this album by accident, it absolutely blew me away. Everything I love about death metal is present in Exmortem's music. Pure Danish adrenaline pumping your speakers on every track. This isn't the low-quality, terribly produced death metal of old, it takes all the elements from the old scene of death metal and puts a new, modern face on it. This is why I love this album.
The album opens up with a very evil track intro, akin to "The Storm" from Witchery's "Symphony for the Devil". A sinister pounding of metal makes your teeth chatter before the vocalist comes in over the top with plain satanic growls. This is the kind of introduction I love, it makes you anticipate the coming storm so much more. And the storm certainly comes, in the shape of unbelievable, unique drumming, a swirling mass of black metal-sounding guitars, and chugging, evil bass. "Ghastly Grotesque" could be reckoned to be more influenced by black metal musically, however the vocals put paid to that theory, deep death metal brutality, without all the pig squealing distortion nonsense. This is proper death metal.
The men from Denmark do not stop there, the intensity is carried straight into "Funerary Sculpture", this time with a much more death metal sounding riff. Put simply, this song is just plainly EVIL. I am aware how much I am using that word in this review, but it is the only word that really does justice to the pure malice of these songs. The vocals here are impeccable, and the drumming completely flawless in its composition. The ride bell blast beating compliments the tremolo guitar picking brilliantly, it is literally perfection of instruments. However, as the album drags on, the bell can get tiresome to the listener, not because it doesn't sound good, just because it is always there. When the drummer switches to splash or crash, it is noticeable, and really adds to the overall sound.
One brilliant aspect of "Pestilence Empire" is the way it holds down complete consistency, and when it changes, you can really feel it pumping through your speakers. At the beginning of "Pestifer", you can hear powerful chords, literally bursting from the speakers (depending on what volume you listen to this album on, of course!). The unique thing about "Pestifer" is its use of interesting pick slides, one guitar goes up, the other down. This creates an amazing effect, and really adds to the song. The bass is omnipresent, and really crates the staying power needed in these songs with its dark, pounding subsistence.
This is really continued throughout the album. It creates an intense atmosphere for the listener, and by the end almost leaves you mentally drained, and for the headbanger, this is always a good thing for an album to do. Tracks such as A Tyrant's Hunger and Icecold Ugliness only add more to the sound and feel of the album, and really back it up with some seriously awesome sound. There really isn't a falling down point on this entire album, its just there really isn't anything that quite smashed through my consciousness, which was where it lost marks on effect.
As said before, the brilliance in this album is its sheer consistency, as this creates an atmosphere for the listener, and when it is broken, I guarantee headbanging will ensue. This is what death metal is about. Not this repetitive constant breakdown formula, but creating an atmosphere, and evil, bleak atmosphere at that. This is definitely a strong point in this album for me, however it could also be seen as a weak point to those who prefer albums to be mixed up. Yes, the songs sound similar, but the formula is very good, and very much worth a listen.
A Tyrant's Hunger.