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It probably isn't even necessary to get into any kind of detailed intro for this band. Pestilence is the reason for a couple of massive things in the metal world. Firstly, this is where the death metal god Martin Van Drunen got his start before venturing off onto other amazing projects (including Asphyx, Hail of Bullets and even Bolt Thrower for a bit). The other notable deed from the Dutch masters is the release of this awesome record "Malleus Maleficarum" and the masterpiece that is "Consuming Impulse." This album is the first of what would be a varied discography for Pestilence, as none of their full-lengths sound the same. The debut is definitely the most raw release (and it could even be considered primitive if compared to the later albums) and shows this four-piece band excelling in a genre that was still at a creative peak with other top-notch thrash releases like Morbid Saint's vicious "Spectrum of Death," Coroner's dark, technical thrashterpiece "Punishment For Decadence" and Forbidden's awesome debut "Forbidden Evil."
I mentioned that this is the band that saw the introduction of my all-time favorite death metal vocalist Martin Van Drunen. However, his vocals on "Malleus Maleficarum" are unlike his tortured growls of his latter work, as they're more suited for a violent thrash group because they're much less throaty or deep, sounding like a mix of Chuck Schuldiner and Jeff Becerra. The riffage, too, is much more thrash-oriented than the band's later albums, but it doesn't affect the quality whatsoever. The wicked riffs that are seemingly littered throughout this album could hang with just about any of the others heard on plenty 1988 releases. The rhythm section didn't really do anything overly impressive, but they did their job well and that's plenty enough to make the music here heavy and headbang-friendly. The lead guitar work is another highlight on this album as the two guitarists showed that they're not just playing brutal riffs and trying to be heavier than the every other band, but that they're capable of writing memorable songs filled with awesome melodies and solos.
The album-opener "Malleus Maleficarum/Antropormophia" starts the record off on a darker note with a kickass buildup featuring tremolo riffage which eventually leads to some thrashy riffs from hell. "Chemo Therapy" is an absolute curbstomper of a track with its whiplash-inducing riffs and an incredibly catchy chorus. "Parricide" and "Cycle of Existence" are just further proof that Pestilence are indeed masters at riff-crafting, with terrific midpaced sections and vile tremolo bursts. There aren't any complaints that could be made about "Malleus Maleficarum," and while it may not be as good as the record that came after it is still a quality listen and an album that is very worthy of your time. Let's just add this album to the list (and it's a pretty decent size list) of brilliant releases from the Dutch, sit back and bang our heads silly to some of the finest death/thrash to be bestowed upon the metal masses.
"Cycle of Existence"
Originally written for Nightmare Reality Webzine.