The original tech-death players have been coming out of the woodwork these past few years, haven’t they? We got an Atheist reunion that has gone over a storm and a new Cynic album that pissed off the diehard death metalers. Now Patrick Mameli has resurrected Pestilence all these years after the release of the critically clobbered jazz-space-time-death continuum that is Spheres (an album that has somehow redeemed itself in death metal revisionist circles). As for new album Resurrection Macabre, don’t look for 2009′s tech death masterpiece (that would be Obscura’s Cosmogenesis), but do expect a damn good, musically accomplished death metal album.
The question burning in the minds of the average Pestilence devotee surely revolves around how Resurrection Macabre compares to albums like Consuming Impulse, Testimony of the Ancients, or Spheres. I’ll spare you such a boring exercise, except to say it is nothing along the lines of Spheres and it is as in-your-face and heavy as Consuming Impulse, albeit with more of a technical bent. Happy now? The bottom line is that Resurrection Macabre is quite brutal and compositionally angular, but it is not an over the top exercise in tech-death wankery.
What that means is that Mameli – who wrote all music and lyrics – creates numerous knotted, gnarly, and sideways riffs, yet ones that are still direct and rather hooky. (By the way, guitarist Patrick Uterwijk joins Mameli on guitar). As one might expect, the riffs twist, poke, and prod on songs like the excellent “Synthetic Grotesque,” which happens to feature an off-kilter riff that would be annoying if it weren’t so damn cool. In fact, almost every tune features a distinctive riff, while the spiraling solos do skim the extraterrestrial surface, spilling over the sides and splashing over the top, when they aren’t leaping out of the mix.
Coupled with the tough, taut, and exceedingly muscular rhythm section of uber bassist Tony Choy and drummer Peter Wildoer (Darkane), the music hits with atom-smashing force. There are some incredibly destructive rhythm patterns on the album and I don’t mean just straight blast beats either. Mameli’s mid-range strep-throat vocals are mostly intelligible and more than sufficient, if not especially powerful. Jacob Hansen’s engineering, mixing, and mastering gives the album one hell of a punch and that includes his penchant for harnessing a bone-dry riff tone and crisp/precise/hard-hitting drum sound.
Resurrection Macabre is also a classic grower. I’m currently listening to it for probably the sixth or seventh time and end up liking it more with each listen. A different tune seems to grab me each time. Initial spins of the disc resulted in my thinking that there was a moderately irksome degree of redundancy in the melody patterns, mainly the practice of simply repeating the song title during chorus, a few slight alterations notwithstanding (e.g. “In Sickness and Death,” “Hate Suicide”) . As I listened more though, nuances began to surface and I began to hear more of an identity in each song. Little things, like the pre-chorus line of “I see you – for what you are” on “Y2H” (the acronym meaning “Year to Hate”) have a way of crawling through the ear holes, burrowing into the brain, and staying there. I can appreciate an album with those qualities. Finally, the bonus track re-recordings of classics “Chemo Therapy,” “Out of the Body,” and “Lost Souls” are a treat to hear with Jacob Hansen’s stellar studio treatment.
I can’t say I’m a long-time Pestilence fan, though I’ve rediscovered the early works these past couple of years. What I can say is that Resurrection Macabre is deserving of attention from the death metal community in general and the Pestilence posse specifically.[Visit the band's website]