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UGLY - 80%

Noktorn, January 15th, 2011

This demo is definitely a grower- I wasn't overly impressed the first time I spun it, but about four plays later and I'm starting to think this is a very weird gem in the USBM scene. Pestiferous played (Still play?) black metal- after a fashion- that doesn't quite sound like anything else in the scene and quite frankly sounds ahead of its time for an '03 release. While there are definitely some similarities to other USBM superstars on this release, Pestiferous definitely channels a vibe and atmosphere of their own on this demo- kind of wish these guys had managed to put out a more official release.

There's definitely a big Havohej influence here, like a blend of the early and late periods of the band, with the gnashing, incoherent riffs of the former and the doomy, oppressive vibe of the latter, but there's also a slice of Black Funeral thrown into the mix with the music's theatricality. It's typically pretty slow stuff, with doom-ridden, churning riffs, almost Coffins-like battering down the listener with ripping distorted shrieks as a vocal accompaniment. Pestiferous, unlike many bands, can actually pull off these lengthy slogs through oppressive, dismal sludge, like on 'Muffled Shrieks From The Temple Of Aiwass' and its simple, looping closing passage, making these sections compelling in a way other bands simply can't. When the band is going faster, it's pretty scary shit: seemingly random, very slightly thrashy tremolo riffs dive all over the place while the vocals positively sear the soundspace, but I think it's the keys that really make this release so weird and compelling: overly loud, almost obnoxious in their sound, they use a very cheap Casio-like patch that somehow sounds pretty eerie despite what would otherwise be a sound fit for some goofy Halloween-themed movie's soundtrack.

The insistent, ritualistic throb of this music, with its reedy riffs and oppressive synths, really makes this something to get excited about. I actually wish this was longer- more tracks on this CDr would have made it even better because the material that is here is just so nasty and weird. I'm not exactly sure what overall idea Pestiferous was going for on this release, but it's definitely an ugly slab of black/doom that's unlike anything I've heard before, be it its subtle undercurrent of Hellhammer during the crushing doom passages or the nightmarish dissonance of the fast stuff. If you can track this down, definitely check it out.