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Malevolent rage in distressed areas. - 79%

6CORPSE6GRINDER6, December 11th, 2012

Pestilence’s debut release’s main argument is thrash metal, in a very pissed off and heavy fashion. Aggression and ferocity are the weapons of choice instead of the sickening and gory DM gimmicks. There are glimpses of death metal but it isn't the most dominant influence of the record, the fastest riffs kind of flirt with it but it never displays the dense and fear inducing genre’s trademark atmosphere completely. There are no blast beats either and vocals aren't as deep as the classic DM growls. I feel an intense Kreator influence in some intriguing riffs with a mysterious halo on them, like on “Bacterial Surgery” where there are some passages that mix slow chords in the back and some eerie melodies, developing a haunting and surrounding vibe. Songs are pretty good but not extremely memorable, at least not every song on the record. It has its moments of course, and it’s important because it marks the beginning of one of the biggest DM acts of the world; but it is nowhere near the next couple of albums in originality and inspiration.

In terms of composition, the band has always been very mature and talented. Songs feature a strong sense of perspective at the time of writing in the way riffs drift from one movement to another, and there’s a lot of variety without losing the song’s identity. Having two guitarists is something they exploited since the beginning; there are lots of arrangements by Patrick Mameli while the other guy plays the riffs. There’s another particular aspect I like about the band, and it is the sense of musicality they have when they slow down things at some points to explore a colder ambient, beyond the mean and speedy edges thrash metal is known for. Sometimes they speed up things even more, like on “Extreme Unction” and “Cycle of Existence”; giving the songs a demented and frantic feel that distinct them from the rest, even if they are accelerated and violent too.

Production is very neat, it lets you hear every instrument individually and as a whole it sounds nice even if it’s not perfect. The recording process was handled in a very professional way I figure, the master tracks sound awesome but there’s something in the mix that doesn't convince me. Guitar tracks are too thin; I would have had them louder. The distortion they used is very raw and tube-amp like, I love that shit but they lack some weight for my taste. The bass guitar has some breathing space due to this phenomenon… it doesn't really add anything to the music because it just follows the riffs, but hey at least it’s there! Drum fills aren't extremely technical or creative but they join the riffs nicely and the double bass drums are properly used. Overall drums sound very old school, not as vivid as today’s digital recordings of course; there’s a hollow reverie on the snare’s sound and the bass drums sound kind of opaque. It doesn't affect the music’s essence or its appreciation though, and taking into account the album's age I bet it sounded spectacular back then, I have to point that out.

Standout tracks: “Extreme Unction”, “Commandments” and “Bacterial Surgery”.