I’m going to be honest here, and probably show my age in the process, but I haven’t listened to a Pestilence album since purchasing Consuming Impulse on cassette no less. The year was 1990 and I was drawn to the simple, yet frightening aspect of being slowly consumed by a swarm of man-eating ants. Some 24 years later, I get around to throwing Obsideo into the old stereo and the results are surprising.
Ok, so I may have lied in that first sentence. I have heard a handful of songs since that ancient purchase, but wasn’t thrilled at all by what I had heard on those tracks and even more disappointed upon listening to 2013’s Doctrine. I was never a fan of the progressive direction that band took in those albums I distanced myself from. Thankfully, the ten songs on Pestilence’s latest full-length shifts back to the sound that originally drew me into the fold.
Yes, there are progressive elements peppered throughout songs like “Aura Negative” and just about every solo on the album, but they are measured and make for a more well-rounded and decidedly awesome listening experience. Brutalizing riffage, technical tempo shifts and a renewed, energetic vocal performance from lead man Patrick Mameli combine to full effect, conjuring a maelstrom of death metal mayhem that hints back to the old Consuming Impulse days while also injecting new life into the band’s sound.
The duo of the opening title track and “Displaced” start things off violently the rabid, unrelenting drum work from newcomer David Haley are a highlight here and throughout the album. Mameli and partner in malevolence, guitarist Patrick Uterwijk are both on the top of their game, shoving massive amount of off-kilter riffage and searing, flesh burning solos down your gullet with precision force. Obsideo keeps you fully off-balance the entire time, yet also keeps everything on track with an underlying, rumbling groove that drives you, head-banging from song to song. Whether jumping around the room as if they were six years old and jacked up on too much sugar, and yet the guys throw in songs like “Soulrot” and “Saturation” to slow things and temper the lunacy.
At the end of the day, Pestilence are back. Despite a few early stumbles in their reformation, Obsideo is an impressive amalgamation of what I loved from the early albums as well as the measured injection of proggy, technical mayhem. The result is an album that I should have been in love with over half a year ago, instead of just getting caught up now. Impressive.