Album review: PESTILENCE – Obsideo

Candlelight Records – Out Now.

2008 was a very important year for fans of old school Death Metal as it marked the return on active service of the Dutch Death Metal quartet Pestilence – a unique and technically outstanding outfit whose albums like “Consuming Impulse” (1989) and “Testimony Of The Ancients” (1991) are considered by many to be landmarks of this extreme music genre.

Since then, guitarist, front man and overall leader Patrick Mameli has led his troops into releasing two very interesting albums, namely “Resurrection Macabre” (2009) and “Doctrine” (2011) – still what most of his fans, myself included, were anxiously waiting was for that one album that would truly connect the band’s current reincarnation with the glorious days of old. Well, it looks like the wait is finally over as “Obsideo”, the band’s seventh studio album is just that album.

Let me be clear here: I don’t believe that anyone, Mameli included, can create a Death Metal album capable of surpassing a musical colossus like “Testimony Of  The Ancients”! Why?

Not only because the musicianship involved in the creation of this album is of the highest possible standards but also because in 1991, the year that the said album was released, Death Metal was still a genre in a healthy stage of evolution.

That being the case, why did I provide “Obsideo” with such a positive and exciting-sounding introduction? Because, contrary to what was the case with both its predecessors, Mameli’s latest brainchild is clearly the product of a truly inspired group of musicians – a band that looks both to its future with optimism, and to its past endeavours – with respect.

Fast riffing and technically demanding rhythmical patterns provide the backbone of the same-titled “Obsideo” – a song whose groove is clearly influenced by the works of Morbid Angel and whose intensity will simply leave you gasping for air.

Those of you who missed the atmospheric/futuristic keyboard interludes used in past albums will really appreciate songs like “Displaced” and “Transition”, while those who evaluate the quality of a Death Metal composition by its intensity and directness will truly love the highly addictive guitar themes of the holy trinity of “Aura Negative”, “Laniatus” & “Distress”.

Most important, however, is that fact that even compositions of a less explosive nature, such as “NecroMorph”, “Soulrot” and “Superconscious” fair better when compared to an average Death Metal song, something that provides the album with much needed consistency and the listener with a potentially enjoyable audio experience.

It took Patrick Mameli five years and a handful of new band members to rediscover the right music formula for Pestilence but, as the ten compositions that put together “Obsideo” clearly suggest, the Dutch maestro is finally on the right track.

It is impossible not to warm to those short, direct but technically outstanding compositions, whose riffs, licks and melodies Death Metal musicians will be studying closely in the coming months in the hope of finding inspiration. The Pestilence we all know and love are finally truly back!

John Stefanis

Rating: **** (4.0/5.0)

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