Resurrection Macabre

Written by: AB on 16/03/2009 21:56:39

Ooooh, Pestilence! Ever since word first got around teh Intarwebz that old school deathsters Pestilence had reunited (as seems to be the trend of old death metal bands) and was working on new material I've been super excited. Hailing from Holland, Pestilence was one of the founders and forerunners in the European death metal scene of the late 80's, and all of their previous four full length releases are worthy of the titles of milestones in old school death metal. Starting with their second album, 1989's super "Consuming Impulse", Pestilence have had their own distinctive style of super technical, aggressive, proggy and in-your-face death (their first album, "Malleus Maleficarum" from the year before, while excellent in its own right, wasn't that different from its peers in Morbid Angel, Death and the likes). Honing their technical skills further with "Testimony of the Ancients", Pestilence took a step further away from their contemporaries and developed a certain progressive feel that blossomed fully in their jazzy, fusion tech death album, the infamous "Spheres". I must admit straight away that this scribe's favourite Pestilence effort is the mighty "Consuming Impulsive" (one of the very best ooold school DM releases!) - the most brutal of the Pestilence bunch - and that "Spheres" never really convinced me with its spacey feel and general weirdness.

Well, that was the history lesson. Now,lets get on with the task at hand - "Resurrection Macabre". First of all, though, I must advice you all that that a reformed Pestilence sadly doesn't mean the return of legendary vokillist Martin Van Drunen, whose raspy growls helped make "Consuming Impulsive" the classic it is today (Van Drunen is currently occupied in the Dutch All Star death band Hail of Bullets, who released their rather boring debut "...Of Frost And War" last year). Instead, Pestilence mainman and guitarist Patrick Mameli also handles the growls again (as he has done on both "Testimony..." and "Spheres"). Stylistically, we're back towards "Consuming Impulse" with a straight death album. However, where the prog touch was much more underplayed and subtle in "Consuming Impulse" than in Pestilence's other old jazzy death efforts, it was undeniably there - on "Resurrection Macabre" however, the prog touch is limited to some of the softer solos on the album, foregone in favour of a more 'catchy' sound (though they fail in making the music catch on, more on that later).

"Resurrection Macabre" starts off nice and brutal with three death grunts from Mameli in opener "Devouring Frenzy" before kicking in some well done, if a little uninspired, death metal riffing. The growls and drums follow the pace, a little faster than mid tempo death but not speedy in any way. While Mameli impress throughout with his rather nice soloing skills, the rest of "Resurrection Macabre" is hard pressed to make me bow in awe and respect as the old material did. While I probably should dissect "Resurrection Macabre" in its own right and try not to compare it too much to the old classics, I find that extremely hard to do when the band's back log is as special as is the case here.

The band doesn't leave one much choice either though; for example one song title is "Dehydrated II", a clear nod to "Consuming Impulse"'s opener "Dehydrated" (which, by the way, is about 100 times better). Though "Resurrection Macabre" is generally well played, and with all tracks being more or less decent or better, the reformed Pestilence fail epically in making anything stick in the back of my skull for long. This is so even though the song writing here favours 'catchiness' and more straight, easily accessible tracks than the earlier works. While songs such as the title track, "Devouring Frenzy" and "Out of the Body" certainly make my head nod - especially the title track! - and at the same time impress with some well done signature changes, soloing and general composition, most of the album fail in being memorable and disappears as soon as I put anything else on the speakers.


Download: Devouring Frenzy, Resurrection Macabre, Out of the Body
For the fans of: Atheist, Death
Listen: MySpace

Release date: 16.03.2009
Mascot Records


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