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Pestilence has had a bit of a rough time trying to reestablish itself as one of death metal's prime gods since reforming in 2008. The Dutch legends take the musical direction of "Doctrine" and continue the groovy, mechanized elements of mid-paced beatings with fusion themes à la "Spheres" throughout "Obsideo," which I'm wary to call the crown jewel of Pestilence's second life, feebly triumphing over the sterile "Resurrection Macabre" and the faux-technical nonsense of "Doctrine," and definitely the most intriguing piece of music Patrick Mameli has created in twenty-odd years. "Obsideo" mostly has the right idea and overrides many of the issues that plagued "Doctrine," but Pestilence is still caught up in an accustomed arduousness which ultimately makes "Obsideo" a wash.
"Doctrine" was an album with a few neat riffs and ideas clogged by clumps of tedious technical jargon, inadequate vocals, and directionless songs—the whole damn works. Nearly every flaw of "Doctrine" appears improved on "Obsideo" while continuing to progress the musical foundation of “Doctrine” almost verbatim, which is nice because I felt the concept of that direction needed a little fleshing out, and at least deserved another shot. The crunching grooves, rhythmic technicality, sweeping guitar work, abstract percussion, delirious bass plucking, and Mameli's barfing vocals all return to the fold, only now there are more death metal sections that pick up the pace a bit with blast beats and the like, and Mameli's growls sound far better than his unrestrained barks on "Doctrine." That's what I like about "Obsideo."
What I don't like about "Obsideo" is how poor it is as a compositional collection of material, meaning there is almost nothing that stands out or any degree of drama to it whatsoever. For the endless multitudes of riffs and grooves that overload every piece, Pestilence somehow finds a way to shut down any sort of relevancy that would’ve recharged an experimental band trying to get back up on its feet. I'm fond of the ripping madness of the title track, "Displaced," and the heavy-as-balls "Necromorph," which are all noteworthy anthems, but they're all pretty much the same; one could cut out a riff here, and place a riff there, and it wouldn't disrupt the core of "Obsideo." All ten songs are interchangeable, really—it's an album of Xeroxed music that seldom dips or soars beyond its cookie-cutter mold.
The tunes past "Soulrot" have almost nothing memorable to show, and don't even get me started on the lazy, sluggish riffing on "Laniatus," which would've fit right into the equally-redundant "Doctrine." Let me back up a bit: "Obsideo" isn't terrible, or even a bad record. In fact, as I said earlier, it's the best Pestilence album Mameli and company have released since zapping this death metal mammoth back to life. However interesting and nice those futile observations may be, the spark of "Obsideo" fails to gloss over the issues within the album’s one-trick blueprint of technical showmanship and peculiar rhythms. At least Mameli is giving the norm the finger and doing his own thing like usual, but that's really all there is to say about "Obsideo."
This review was written for: www.Thrashpit.com