Review Summary: Partly forgettable, partly fancy, fully inconsistent.
Once upon a time, Pestilence were known as one of the frontrunners for death metal's most forward-thinking, progressive and experimental recesses. That
time was 25 years ago, back when Spheres
was as much derided for its bizarreness as it was beloved for its uniqueness. Since the reformation of the band in 2008, it would appear that Pestilence have slowly but surely been forgotten about, in no small part due to the explosion and hype-ridden current state of technical death metal and progressive metal: Surely two styles which owe it all to Pestilence's work in the early 90s.
Latest effort Hadeon
may encapsulate a sample of what worked for Pestilence all those years ago, but it sure as hell doesn't capitalize on it. A record which is mostly filled with short, seemingly incomplete run-of-the-mill death metal tunes doesn't exactly sound thrilling, but alas this is what Pestilence's latest album entails. Whilst none of the songs here are bad (above average material in fact), listening to the grainy vocals and run-along riff work of "Non Physical Existent" inspires absolutely nobody who decides to listen. "Materialization" and "Manifestations" (almost the same song with different individual titles) may have slightly twisted solos and the latter even details quite a few changes in pace, but none of it really feels inspired enough to make Pestilence stand out from the crowd. Even at just short of fourty minutes' runtime, Hadeon
seems to be clutching at straws in attempting to fill the void.
There's still golden moments here however. "Astral Projection" starts as if to roll out yet another tired main riff, before warped, robotic vocals, psychedelic background and fizzled ambiance arrives and suddenly you're trying to figure out if it's the same band that rolled out "Non Physical Existent". "Ultra Demons" gets pretty weird in the same way but extends this sound, ensuring that the guitar work remains unique and the elaborate solos become more and twisted until the song's abrupt end. "Layers of Reality" quickly becomes a short, snappy albeit chaotic exercise in being as fast as possible whilst never forgetting the technique of the band's individual compositions. The momentum of these songs are also never ommitted, soundly confirming that Pestilence still have tricks up their sleeve-it's just that they're few and far between when they should be examples in near enough every song on Hadeon
That's essentially why Hadeon
renders itself so damn inconsistent. For every middle-of-the-road song here, there seems to be another that further explores Pestilence's deeper, more progressive and experimental tendencies. Unfortunately, in 2018, a band of this style of death metal needs to go the full hog if there's ever a chance of sparking interest amongst the community. Otherwise, you're left with an album which is ratioed 50/50 with irrelevant, run-of-the-mill material and inspired musicianship.