Sunday, November 10, 2013

Pestilence: Obsideo (2013)

Your Body It Has Torn Through

Review by joanismylover, the third metal attorney.

I understand that Pestilence is a storied death metal franchise with Decibel Hall of Fame-worthy albums, which morphed thrash into death at a time when most were not doing it. Cue the promo material:

"Formed in 1986, PESTILENCE took influence from early American and German thrash metal to cultivate its now signature death metal sound."

I understand that but have not heard any of said albums. So it was merely fortuitous that a day after downloading this, while perusing the used bins at my local record store, I happened upon Roadrunner's "Two From the Vault"* series for Pestilence, which included the HoF Consuming Impulse and another reported classic, Pillars of the Ancient. Wishlist albums #487 and 488, you just got bought. I thought about studying up on those two before doing this review but quickly dismissed that idea. What better way to judge a release on its merits than without the baggage of predecessor comparisons?

Thus liberated from the baggage of past recordings, I can apply the Powerwolf rule. That rule states metal will have one or more of the following: "1. swagger that snaps necks and/or dual guitar harmonies that invoke Wayne's World air guitar outbreaks; 2. "dangerous" or at least a little sinister, or, in the alternative, transcendent and uplifting amid thunder or sludge; or, 3. fucking loud."^^ This has all three elements, but in varying doses.

It's not a minute in and my neck is already snapping to the title track. It's good, low-end death crawl shit. Fucking loud, too. Check. But as with most of the tracks the primordial mosh is almost immediately countered with tech-death jamming that doesn't quite get me noodling, but doesn't piss me off, either. It's here and elsewhere with some frequency that I'm reminded of Meshuggah's Obzen, but without all the "djent" if that makes any sense.*** (Could be the 8 -string guitar referenced in the promo materials?) I mean this in a complimentary fashion. We have a heavy riff and rhythm with an off kilter guitar lead that kind of floats in back of the riff-rhythm. The vocals are death metal as fuck, and again, this is a compliment. (Promo tells me the 8 - string forces vocalist/guitarist to "sing in a higher pitch". I did not make that up). More often than not I have no idea WTF it he's talking about but then I'm whipping my head back and forth. This makes joanismylover click the "like" button. The album is short and tight to the point (more points), but the production is a little too snappy for my taste. I'm not doing enough slamming but I am still admiring the skill in the songcraft, not a frequent occurrence with tech death. And here's probably the best compliment for those looking for something a little familiar but a little different. I haven't heard much like this in the last couple of years.

I'll soon be traveling back to 1989 and 1991 to find out more.

3.5 out of 5 stars.

*These are quite the value if you find them in your local used CD store - I also got one for Suffocation's Effigy of the Forgotten and Pierced from Within. I failed to purchase Exhorder's recently and regret it.
*** [I shudder any time someone mentions Meshuggah and the dj-word in the same sentence. But I think I know what he means. --FMA]

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