I haven’t exactly been thrilled with Pestilence’s post-reformation material. RESURRECTION MACABRE was a good but not great comeback album; structurally sounding a lot like what you’d expect from a Pestilence record, but suffering from a nagging case of “playing it safe”. 2011’s DOCTRINE attempted to overcompensate for that, and was dog shit on wheat toast (apologies in advance to dog shit and wheat toast). Okay, that may be a bit harsh (it’s not), but at the very least DOCTRINE was a bloated, down tuned pretentious mess. Now believe me, I get it – it’s unfair to judge an artist’s creative output today against their work from two decades ago, but at the same time…C’MON MAMELI!!! THROW A FAN A BONE HERE! CHRIST ALMIGHTY, I BOUGHT CONSUMING IMPULSE ON F@#KING CASSETTE! “TWISTED TRUTH” WAS ONE OF THE FIRST SONGS I LEARNED TO PLAY ON GUITAR!! I DEFENDED SPHERES TO MY FRIENDS!! I’VE BEEN A LOYAL FAN SINCE 19-F@#KING-91, AND THIS IS WHAT I GET?!!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGG!!!!!
Wow, sorry, not sure what just happened there. Anyway, OBSIDEO is the latest release from Pestilence V2.0. You’ll understand my trepidation in approaching OBSIDEO, but man oh man, color me surprised. Successfully bridging the generational gap between Pestilence past and present, OBSIDEO might as well have been titled “What We Actually Meant to Say on the Last Two Records Was…”. OBSIDEO is hands down the best of the reformation-era releases, and may possibly be their best overall since TESTIMONY OF THE ANCIENTS. Yes, I’m aware that’s a helluva declaration, but OBSIDEO is a helluva record.
RESURRECTION MACABRE stumbled because it abandoned the technical complexity that albums like TESTIMONY and SPHERES laid the groundwork for. DOCTRINE fell on its ass because it tried to be smarter than it was, forgetting the importance of simple concepts like memorable riffs and song structure. OBSIDEO takes the best of both worlds and blends the proverbial chocolate in the peanut butter for an album that revels in challenging, progressive inclinations whilst doing so upon a foundation of intense, wickedly solid riffing. The opening title track can be viewed as a statement of intent, immediately ripping into a blast beat driven, speed picking frenzy, whilst Patrick Mameli’s “I’m about to vomit” sounding vocals spew across the track. The low, bottom end of the 8-string guitars are used more as an accent than a crutch, creating a contrasting heaviness to the melee. It’s an invigorating teaser of what’s to follow across the album’s 10 tracks. This framework is a constant theme across OBSIDEO, and while at times it does blur the lines between tracks, it also builds some continuity from start to finish. “Displaced” has sci-fi elements that recalls SPHERES, and is the first proper introduction of the band’s new rhythm section, pummeling the listener with staccato start/stops that should result in headbanging induced whiplash. Latter tracks on the album like “Laniatus”, “Distress”, and “Transition” honestly sound like they could’ve been leftovers from the band’s heyday, balancing the right amount of curious experimentation with blunt force brutality.
If, by some stretch of the imagination you’ve yet to experience Pestilence, my recommendation in this order would be 1) CONSUMING IMPULSE, 2) TESTIMONY OF THE ANCIENTS, 3) OBSIDEO. Again, it’s the best we’ve heard from Pestilence since regrouping, and I’ll argue that it better communicates the juxtaposition ideas of heavy and exploratory than SPHERES was capable of at the time of its release. Some will read that and cry heresy; I will argue that it’s truth. Don’t believe me? Listen for yourself when OBSIDEO releases on November 11th. The cynic in me was ready to thrash this record, but the fan in me was glad that I didn’t have to. Thanks guys, it was a tough road to get here, but it was worth the wait.
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