Review Summary: Pestilence return after a 16-year hiatus with a powerful new batch of songs.
The past few years have seen the return of some great bands that disappeared a long time ago. We’ve had both At the Gates
come back and start playing shows all over the world. We’ve had Cynic
take things one step further and release their first albums in over a decade, and we’ve still got Atheist
on the way. Another band that was always mentioned within the same breath as these bands was Pestilence, and oddly enough they’re back too. I have to admit that of all these bands, Pestilence were the one that I was the least thrilled about. Their technical death metal was average at best and when they decided to dive into the jazz-fusion on Spheres
it was pretty bad. Fortunately, I don’t really have to waste any time bringing people up to date on these albums because Resurrection Macabre
takes very little from them.
Admittedly, a lot of the reason that I just can’t get into those older albums is the very weak productions (even for the time), but that’s not a problem here. Pestilence have traded the thin, flimsy productions of their past for a literal wall of sound. The drums are powerful and the double bass is thunderous at all times. The guitars have also discarded their weak sound, trading it for a thick, yet sharp, tone with plenty of bottom end. The actual riffs themselves need to be highlighted as well because not only do they finally sound good, but they actually are
good. The band have entirely discarded the lifeless riffs that despite any speed they may have had, never seemed to have any power, aggression or energy behind them. The riffs here are semi-technical death metal riffs that have a constant chaotic feeling to them, but that also never let up on a minor sense of melody. While we’re pointing out improvements it must be mentioned that the thin growls of the past have also been replaced with deep guttural growls that are accentuated by backing black metal-ish growls.
So, it’s pretty well established that great changes were made but it’s still probably not all that clear what that really means for this album. If this album is your initial introduction to this band, just know that a close comparison could be made to Cannibal Corpse
’s latest album if it was combined with Killing Technology
. For those unfamiliar with those bands as well (go find that Voivod album!), a better description is probably in order. The band takes chaotic and heavy riffs and deliver them in combination with some very weird, almost atonal, sounding chords and notes. This riff-style is generally played over fast, technical beats but the structure of each song allows for a lot of weird breaks and pace-changes to keep the listener off-balance and the songs fresh. The band also isn’t above stopping on a dime to allow for the occasional bizarre and otherworldly sounding guitar solo over a jazzy backbeat. All of these improvements, as well as the overall stylistic change have made for a Pestilence album that still brings the technicality they were known for, but also introduces a heaviness and aggression they’ve never have.
Admittedly, the stylistic changes are pretty drastic and it remains to be seen whether old fans will really take to the modern Pestilence sound. For the rest of us that never really listened to them (and for those not scared of change), the band has released the best album in their career. It’s something that should instantly appeal to those into technical death metal, and will hopefully appeal to those older fans too. The band, almost as if extending an ‘olive branch’ to those older fans, have also included three re-recorded songs from previous albums (as chosen by the fans) and they’re really good now. With everything the band are doing right, I see really good things for them now just so long as they don’t find out Cynic has released “Traced in Air” and then start writing their next album.