Written by: RUB on 24/01/2022 12:07:23

Much can be said about Pestilence, but shouldn’t need any introduction. The Dutch death metal legends are back with a new album, the first since the 2018 outing “Hadeon”, and only the second since their 2013 album “Obsideo”. Needless to say, if you haven’t already heard their earliest works, stop reading and do it. Dating back to 1986, I’m almost certain that any fan of the band looks back with envy on the classics from that era and the early 90s as well. Having gone through several hiatuses, split-ups, and line-up changes, the band only consists of the sole remaining original member Patrick Mameli on guitar and vocals, with the added forces of three new members added in 2019 and 2020 respectively. This should be quite interesting to see what this does to their sound, but surely also if they can reclaim their former glory with their newest outing “Exitivm”.

The sizable intro appropriately sets the stage, and ensures a very menacing and ominovs setting suitable for what’s lying ahead. With “Morbvs Propagationem” my attention is instantly captured by both the aggression and the atmosphere, as it’s melodic and angry at the same time, but also packs plenty of grooves. This is something to take notice of, as the combination is near-perfect in my opinion, and makes for one of the better tracks of 2021. Especially the riffing is quite something else, as the dissonant rhythms make you instantly bang your head, but at the same time try to wrap your it around how it sounds so good. Mameli sounds as angry as ever with his harsh and raw yet quite decipherable vocals, which is well-rounded by the layered backdrop of atmospheric synths-sounds. These are further utilized in track three “Deificvs”, which sort of gives it a more theatrical feel to go along with the constantly chugging guitars and drums.

Track four “Sempiternvs” is a contester for one of the meanest almost haunting riffs released last year. After a slow-paced build-up, the track picks up the pace with plenty of double bass, squealing guitars, and harrowing vocals. The general sound this album has is quite strange. Pretty much every part and instrumentation are insanely complex and dissonant. Of course, this is done to utilize the atmosphere to the fullest extent, and makes the sound that more extreme. Both the ominous riff and the subsequent solo in said song sound extremely disturbing, and is not a very pleasant experience; just the sort of feeling you want, when you’re making an extreme metal album such as this. What this creates is a certain underlying mood, which helps elevate the tracks and the general atmosphere even further than your usual and somewhat generic-sounding death metal. Point in case: the dualistic nature of the very impressive drumming and the razor-sharp riffing just shy of the 2:40-minute mark of “Dominatvi Svbmissa” should tell you everything you need to know about how the devil’s in the detail when talking about the song structure Pestilence has opted for, and just how nightmarish it sounds thanks to the various degrees of dissonant drumming and riffing.

In general, the album packs so much variation, groove, and aggression, which almost makes you wonder what could possibly have made Pestilence this angry. As seen with both “Internicionem” and “Mortifervm”, track five and six respectively, the former, which mixes groove and aggression so tightly together that they become inseparable, and the latter which just has yet another prime example of an absolutely tormenting sound; both in riffs, drumming (that cymbal-sound during the main-riff just adds so much to the soundscape) and definitely in the layered atmosphere throughout the entire track. Simply put, the brilliant tracks are just piling on top of each other on this record, with the latter easily being amongst the best of 2021.

Finally, I have to highlight “Pericvlvm Externvm”, although this already feels like there are no bad songs on this record. But the sheer force this track is made up of is just mind-blowing! After a rather grandiose-sounding intro with a minimalistic tremolo-piece of the guitar, the carnage begins. With nods towards both Immolation and Hate Eternal, this monstrosity should simply put destroy in every live-setting. I find it so difficult not to completely lose it to this banger, as the pounding drums and sharp riffing compliments each other so well.

What Pestilence has created with “Exitivm” is nothing short of astonishing. With an almost entirely new line-up, they’ve managed to write one of the best albums of 2021, which sounds so fresh, variated, and modern, coming from a band from the 80s, but without sacrificing any of that progressive death metal sound, which the band is so revered for. Avoiding so many different pitfalls in general, and instead opted for writing a beast of an album which is a genuinely interesting listen; even the latter tracks have plenty of interesting elements intertwined within the disharmonious riffing and complex solos. I cannot get enough of the sound they’ve managed to create, as it has proven quite the challenge to pick the absolute best tracks on offer. Surely, this should mark a return to the big stage for the Dutch legends, because this can rival some of their early works, just with a modern and without a doubt tormenting twist.


Download: Pericvlvm Externvm; Mortifervm; Morbvs Propagationem; Internicionem; Sempiternvs; Dominatvi Svbmissa; Immortvos
For the fans of: Death, Cynic, Obscura, Immolation, Atheist, Vltimas, Hate Eternal
Listen: Facebook

Release date 25.06.2021
Agonia Records

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