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As with so many old bands to have reformed in the past decade, the subsequent works of Dutch death metal maestros Pestilence have been shaky at best. "Obsidio" is the third of these works, following on from 2009's "Resurrection Macabre" and 2011's "Doctrine", two records that have hardly stood favourably against their earlier efforts, notably "Consuming Impulse" and "Testimony of the Ancients". "Obisido" is more on the mark but the degree of similarity heard across the album is a hindrance to its success.
Once the sound of the heart monitor ceases to beep in the introduction to "Obsideo" and the pandemonium is unleashed, the rapid fire style of rolling drum fills and frequently changing riffs backed up by a typically massive production is first heard. It remains so 'til the bitter end. Pestilence's legacy has always been based around compositions residing at the more complex end of the DM spectrum, rather than sheer untamed brutality, which today is borne by the hyperactivity of these ten tracks sounding akin to Anata's choppy style, mixed with the compactness of Death's seminal "Human". I make this last reference based as much on the short lengths of all these tracks, more than the songwriting panache within them; only the opener with exceeds 4 minutes (at 4:04), with all nine others falling between 3:10 and 3:57. I'd rather a band play to their strengths instead of adding filler for the sake of it, but to see such consistency rarely suggests little in the way of variation.
The time that is taken is filled to the brim, however. There are riffs everywhere, often interspersed with flailing and discordant solos as in "Displaced" and "Saturation", or soulful melodic closing to awfully-titled "NecroMorph" (a track which boasts a truly horrible spoken word intro). I can't help but have the feeling though that the composition of these riffs would allow one to pick up a riff, drop it elsewhere on the LP and it would hardly sound out of place in its new location, such is the overall performance.
The openings to "Distress" and "Saturation" provide these songs powerful bases through which to diverge into great songs, but even at their best on the album Pestilence fail to make a lasting impression, with bouncing Fear Factory-esque riffs bringing very staccato verse rhythms which have never been easy to love at the best of times. Touches of Decapitated's brand of DM exist at times too, in the reverberating soloing of "Aura Negative" and "Superconcious"'s aggressive rhythmic chops which bear a resemblance to the Poles.
Like Patrick Mameli's hoarse shouty vocal style, which approximates those of Obituary's John Tardy but without the same sickly stench, the ten tracks do not offer enough diversity to be remembered as greats, but the solid performance and liberally distributed bludgeoning riffs ensure "Obsidio" is a solid outing for these Dutch old-timers.
Originally written for www.Rockfreaks.net