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Before they were officially death metal, Pestilence put this thrashterpiece out. Out of their first four albums, this is probably their least unique. Patrick Mameli and the boys really honed their craft on the next album by throwing in much more variety than on here. But Malleus Maleficarum is certainly not bad.
This is not death metal. I hear East Coast thrash here. And lots of it. Namely Anthrax and Overkill in their prime, but much faster. Those breakdowns could have come right off of Taking Over! That could be the Slayer influence, which is also very well pronounced, especially in the tremolo picked sections. Unlike later albums, I don't hear very much Possessed on here. Even Martin Van Drunen's vocals are not the unholy roar of later albums. They're kind of a scratchier, teenage Lemmy. And they go really well with the thrash feel of the album.
The solos sound like the solos from Haunting the Chapel; frantic, pick grinding insanity that doesn't have a lot of direction, but rips the hell out of your ears. A few areas show Patrick Mameli's budding lead guitar mastery, namely "Chemotherepy" and the instrumental "Osculum Infame." He uses his whammy bar dives really effectively, something that characterizes his playing. Melody is nearly non-existent, except for the intro and the melodic lead in "Chemotherepy" and "Osculum Infame."
I don't spin this one too much, and when I do, I prefer it in small doses. With the rapid pace of the album, it has a tendency to melt together in a frenzy of skank beats and furious waves of angry guitars.