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Pestilence > Exitivm > Reviews > Commander Octopus
Pestilence - Exitivm

Still on a good level - 75%

Commander Octopus, June 9th, 2024

Holy shit, have I seen some serious hate poured over the latest outing of Pestilence - Levels of Perception! In all honesty, I also turned it off after a few tracks, deeming it a royal waste of my time... Why the band felt obligated to release something like that after an album of Exitivm's caliber is beyond me. What Patrick Mameli offers on this album is a lot more pleasant to the ear, though in no way would I call it easily digestible.

Comparable to their Testimony of the Ages - or to Nocturnus' The Key by all means - this is thrash tinged death metal with a heavy progressive edge and sparkles of keyboards added for futuristic atmosphere. What really stands out about Exitivm is Mameli's absolutely bonkers take on old school riffs. Although the rhythm section is pretty straightforward (though by no means boring, Michiel van der Plicht does a remarkable job behind the drum kit, Joost van der Graaf is given enough room to show off that death metal bass can be so much more than just playing along with the riffs), the deceptive old school format spiced up with Mameli's almost jazzy dissonant riffing makes the journey throughout the album a pretty exciting one.

The reliance on Mameli's relatively one-man show also has the downside of bringing the guitars to the forefront of the mix. It's not bad, but it has the unfortunate side effect of the whole feeling somewhat disconnected at times. The mid/treble heavy mix favors the hi-hat and cymbals and creates a rather ticking, artificial overall sound. The keyboards, though nothing I mind per se, are a little bit on the plastic side and not on par with the work of the other instrumentalists. Nevertheless, despite being guitar heavy, the production is sufficiently transparent and heavy to not take away from the overall impression.

Although there are plenty of shifts in tempo, with rumbling double bass and some blast beats thrown in for good measure, a few groove tendencies sneak into some of the songs (like "Deficvs" or "Sempiternvs") which may or may not be a turn-off for some listeners. "Morbvs Propagationem" and "Pericvlvm Externvm" introduce some elements of a slower Hate Eternal. Other obvious similar parallels could be drawn to Death - Mameli's vocals landing somewhere in between Chuck Schuldiner and John Tardy of Obituary glory - or Sadist (especially true of the troika "Pericvlvm Externvm", "Inficiat" and "Exitivm").

Exitivm is a moderately exciting album. Mameli does rehash some of his own ideas over the 39 minutes playing time, but since they aren't bad ideas, I don't really mind him repeating himself. The Intro and Outro don't really add anything but 5 extra minutes to the album and could have been disposed of entirely. I don't think anyone needs to be afraid of buying Exitivm. It has enough staying power and uniqueness to deserve repeated spins and certainly doesn't stain Pestilence's legacy. If only Mameli would have leveled up by expanding on this album for his next release. As we all know by now, he didn't...