Pestilence
Spheres


3.5
great

Review

by Archibald C. Burke USER (37 Reviews)
December 15th, 2009 | 137 replies | 14,013 views


Release Date: 1993 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Holland's take on Florida's classic death metal sound.

4 of 4 thought this review was well written


During the late 80’s and early 90’s, the State of Florida, U.S.A., saw an influx of death metal bands (later termed technical death metal), many already taking the newly developing style into new places. Considering the state is a birthing ground of sorts for the genre, the quantity of bands really wasn’t all that surprising. The quality, however, was something to take notice to – offering up traditional heavy metal on speed, coupled with the guttural vocal style, then thrown into a blender with a myriad of jazz and fusion influences…this was just really, really good stuff. Considering some of the players to grace this sound (Death, [/b]Atheist[/b], Cynic, etc.) it would seem only logical that these influences would be long-reaching, to places where others were attempting to make metallic waves of their own hungrily lapped them up. This was undoubtedly the case with Dutch death metallers Pestilence, a band that started out with the traditional death metal roots, but like her peers, was not content to simply sit on one take of their sound.


Pestilence’s fourth studio effort, 1993’s Spheres was the product of three records worth of retooling, reshaping, and experimenting. Throughout the course of these previous discs the band would slowly evolve, showcasing the signs of things to come – progressive and jazz influences mainly – in somewhat of a mutation of death metal’s standard building blocks. This was far from a new idea by this point, but nevertheless fans of the band and even the majority of critics initially rejected and panned the new direction has a stray from what made them Pestilence. This seems a bit perplexing considering how popular the jazz-influenced death metal sound was at the time, but in an unfortunate turn of events, the band suffered the backlash. Spheres does retain the band’s death metal roots pretty damn strongly, with the guttural, horse vocals of its time, dual crunching guitars, and some pounding drums. What stuck in the collective craw of some of the more hardcore fans was this album’s addition of other elements and a new band interest in experimentation. If you agree with these fans, this album probably isn’t for you and I’d stop reading this; however, if you like your metal with a little twist of difference, this underrated album could be something that went under your radar.

One thing you could probably take from the album before even pushing play would be the cover art and the track listing. The former has a space theme, depicting a starry horizon and an ominous black hole in the distance, slowly pulling everything in. In a sense, this idea rung true with the track-titles and lyrical content as well. The band was interested in something else, something beyond what was being perceived. These elements would find their fingerprints all over Spheres, making use of varying time signatures, synthesiser roles, and some sci-fi sounds thrown in for good measure. Some of this may sound ridiculous, while some of the concepts may seem like they have no place in death metal’s music. This was one of those albums’s that polarised the band’s fans, and I suspect it’ll be a matter of preference around here. Still, the fact that this band was ridiculously interesting and a little ahead of their time shouldn’t have been ultimately the nail in the coffin of their career. Tracks like The Level of Perception and Personal Energy show great strides to the experimentation of progressive metal, with the latter possessing almost a Porcupine Tree intro followed by varying influences merging together. Overall, the album’s sound gives off some true classic death metal with progressive touches and step away from the genres typical subject matter. Though retaining their roots, they have forsaken tradition enough to make use of synths and synth-guitars to give their album an extra-spacey quality.

Spheres is far from the perfect record, and regardless of all its finer points, it would be naïve of a fan of the disc to turn a blind-eye on the obvious hiccups and distractions that take away from an otherwise perfect listening experience. First off, the vocalist is pretty bad…I mean, I know they’re death vocals, but they seem far too gruff and unrefined for one to want to bother with. The production and mixing of this record did not receive the proper attention to detail it deserved, and it suffered as a result.
All that being said, however, the pros definitely out-weigh the cons with Spheres, and this reviewers confusion as to why this record was so hated by the band’s fans is maintained. There’s nothing wrong with a little experimentation and mixing things up, though I know we all tend to fear it when it comes to our bands. If you’re into something different with your metal, or are fans of the Atheist, Cynic, Death era of death metal, I’d give this record a spin, I doubt you’ll be disappointed.



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user ratings (160)
Chart.
3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Willie
Moderator
December 16th 2009



15894 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Good review. I tried to tell you that 6 hours ago, but the site went down right after I pos'd. Anyway...

This was far from a new idea by this point, but nevertheless fans of the band and even the majority of critics initially rejected and panned the new direction has a stray from what made them Pestilence.
The problem was that Pestilence was never very good, and this album proved it. Yes, it moved them towards an Atheist/Cynic direction but the execution was crap. The riffs were boring, the vocals still sucked, the "fusion" parts were generic and the songwriting was lacking.


Digging: Emperor - In The Nightside Eclipse - 20th Year Anniversary

TheyTookOurJobs
December 16th 2009



1318 Comments


good review!

TheyTookOurJobs
December 16th 2009



1318 Comments


good review!

jingledeath
December 16th 2009



7104 Comments


Testimony is great and Consuming Impulse is amazing but i'm not sure if i want to check this out

Willie
Moderator
December 16th 2009



15894 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

You're not missing much. Their latest album had some good tracks (especially the second half of the album).

CrazyFool84
December 16th 2009



1080 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I forgot they even got back together, is that new one worth checking out? Thanks for the comments by the way, appreciate the shoutbox msg in the wake of the site going down

Athom
Staff Reviewer
December 16th 2009



17200 Comments


Consuming Impulse ruled, this however does not.

Willie
Moderator
December 16th 2009



15894 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

The new one is ok. It's less like this and more like their older albums. The vocals are definitely improved. I think from track 5 to the end is really good, but the first four tracks are whatever.

KILL
March 11th 2010



70718 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

album is ok wtf willie new album sucks compared to old shit

Digging: Gal Costa - Gal Costa

Willie
Moderator
March 11th 2010



15894 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I've never been a fan of the older stuff, especially Spheres.

KILL
March 12th 2010



70718 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

have you heard consuming impulse?

relativeworld
December 25th 2010



289 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Lyrical theme explored in this album is of great depth ( explored in a straight-forward way ) not metaphorical or stuff ...I love this album and it s growing

KILL
December 25th 2010



70718 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

dude.......................i mean dude

Zyborggian
August 18th 2011



28 Comments


The best part about this album is the bassist. Jeroen is arguably the greatest bass player in metal... but unfortunately he wasn't given much of a chance to shine on this release

KILL
October 17th 2011



70718 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this album is underrated, some cool shit on here

KILL
October 20th 2011



70718 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

agreed

KILL
October 20th 2011



70718 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

agreed

KILL5
October 22nd 2011



429 Comments


there are no keyboards on this album

KILL
November 28th 2011



70718 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

there are no keyboards on this album [2]

KILL
December 25th 2011



70718 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

there are no keyboards on this album [3]




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