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Pessimist > Holdout > Reviews
Pessimist - Holdout

The Vice of Killing (& Becoming) - 70%

TheBurningOfSodom, December 4th, 2021

Pessimist were among the trailblazing novel acts in the resurgence of the once-great German thrash scene in the new millennium, following the Big 3's respective 2001 efforts (M-16, The Antichrist, Violent Revolution) et similia. In any case, they've never been the most renowned band around, judging by the very few reviews for their past works, or their total lack thereof regarding Holdout, their return to the scenes 7 years after Death from Above (2013). Speaking of which, only the original vocalist and one axeman have managed to keep their seats in the lineup during this time frame.

Sodom's 'return to thrash' output is definitely the starting point for comparisons ('Roaring Thunder' sounds taken straight from Code Red), and the heavily militaristic lyrical themes are almost a logical consequence. Nevertheless, Pessimist do know about the existence of Kreator, as showcased in 'Kill & Become', among others. Michael "TZ" Schweitzer's rasp is pretty much identical to Mille's more extreme recent delivery, also.

Maybe in an attempt to find another way to distance their sound from said influences, the band always had a weakness for long compositions, and Holdout makes no exception, as it exceeds 54 minutes with only 9 of them. Opener 'Landsknecht' escapes boredom by virtue of its simply vertiginous solo section, even if the ending is just a bit overlong. Elsewhere, solos do not abound (and are, instead, absent on some songs), rendering the lack of ideas even more painful. Even on the few tracks shorter than 5 minutes – 'Roaring Thunder' and 'Agony' – trimmable fat lurks around the corner (for example, the never-ending bridge of the latter). I'm not denying they can strike very hard when at full throttle, as that would be a plain evidence denial, and the album sure sounds killer thanks to its bass-heavy production (the title-track benefits a lot from this), yet I'm assuming their aim was way grander than that simple task.

'Kill & Become', 'Mountain of Death' (which rides what is basically an inverted version of Sepultura's 'Arise' riff) and especially the bittersweet 'The King of Slaughter' are far from being beginner or entry-level stuff, but there is nigh a track whose length I don't find questionable. The band isn't bad at creating solemn military atmospheres, either, as 'Holdout' or the closer '7:28' show. The latter is an epic inspired by the Battle of the Somme, and I surprisingly think its 10-minute running time is adequate, its second half being beautiful, and the multilingual chorus spot-on, somewhat emotional. All things considered, the only legitimate 'memorable' track.

If you don't conceive the problem of your thrash being 'too German', Holdout is 100% guaranteed to be your bread and butter (with a topping of tank shells, possibly). But don't ask it to leave a lasting impression, too.

-review written for the 8th Diamhea Memorial Review Challenge – may you rest in peace, Chris.