Cult of the Initiated/Blood for the Gods/Slaughtering the Faithful (Reissues)

Pessimist started in Maryland in the early 90’s and had a bunch of hype surrounding them and I became friends with guitarist Kelly Mclauchlin through mutual friends.  To see him see me back with Internal Bleeding 3 years ago in the mid-west -wearing the Voracious Contempt purple tour longsleeve from the tour was a huge highlight.  Kelly is a super supportive individual, who is a great guitarist and that’s why he has toured with many well-known bands and is also a member of I Am Morbid – how about a full-length, already? Regardless; Pessimist is his “baby” so to speak and the band reactivated several years ago and from social media posts looks like they’re recording a new album – their fourth one and now we have Season of Mist to thank for the reissues of their 3 prior albums: Cult of the Initiated ’97, Blood for the Gods ’99 and Slaughtering the Faithful ’02.  Not only are the reissues spruced up with remastered sounds, they’re equipped with bonus songs and some sharper cover imaging and the debut album new reimagined cover is light years, in my opinion, better than the original.

The debut Cult of the Initiated is still my favorite Pessimist album and it also came out around the same time as our second Internal Bleeding album, The Extinction of BenevolencePessimist had been building up a strong underground following with demos and an ep, but this debut solidified them as a quality underground death metal band.  One of the main reasons was due to the musicianship – which was above-average and the guitar riffs, well-crafted as they were brutal.  The title track opening with a killer riff, before picking up speed and one of the catchiest songs the band ever did.  Rob Kline’s vocals alternated between deep growls and then doing higher pitched screams kinds like what Chris Barnes was doing at that time period.  Rob’s high register screeches, at times, always were a bit much and still are.  Now we get them in high quality remastered sound – Oh Boy!  Regardless the first thing that jumps out is Pessimist, were not set on sounding like similar brutal bands, from the NY/MD area, like Dying Fetus from MD.  They were closer to the Floridian sound, on the debut.  Really calling to mind Disincarnate, Pestilence, Death and Morbid Angel.  So expect some melodic soloing going on, especially on the title track.  Monster double bass moments as well.  “Let the Demons Rest” had a nice double pounding opening with crunchy riffs all over the place and that mid-section moment right before the 3 minute mark highlights their rhythm section and then right into a killer guitar solo.  The 4 bonus songs are demo versions and outro and another song.  As I mentioned the revamped album cover is killer and the remastered sound is absolutely crisp and terrific.

Flying high from the debut, Blood for the Gods was released 2 years later, opening with “Mens Rea (with Evil Intent)” and one of the main focus point Pessimist pushed forward with was creating an even more brutal sound than their debut.  So while those groovy mid-paced passages are still there, there definitely was a more focused approach on being more brutal and incorporating more blast beats.  This opening song is brutal bliss and crushing and that high pitched screaming is still ever present, still a bit grating for these years and I enjoy Rob’s vocals more so.  You know Kelly did backing vocals too, maybe he was responsible for those high registers – well, anyway, let’s get into  “Psychological Autopsy”, excellent start, and the monster double bass moments are terrific and the remaster really brings them out more.  The song has some great slow down moments, classic thrash speed moments, solos and cool blast beat sections.  The bonus songs are a demo version of the album opener as well as a scorching rendition of Kreator’s “The Pestilence” song off the classic Pleasure to Kill album.  The album cover has been brightened up and enhanced and is not dark like the original, therefore this album cover bests the original.

Slaughtering the Faithful would usher in new members, new members with Kelly staying intact from the previous albums.  Drummer John Grden sadly passed away in 2015 – RIP brother-he does some phenomenal drumming on this album.  Just like the previous album, Pessimist were intent on out brutalizing their previous releases, therefore Slaughtering the Faithful is their fastest album and the title track comes in after a short instrumental.  Brutal vocals, excellent guitar solos and the blasting is increased, but those signature Pessimist mid-paced moments are still there.  This song features a multitude of blazing guitar solos.  “Metempsychosis” is one of the most brutal Pessimist songs, just listen to the opening blast beat and then isolated guitar riffs.  This song is fast AF and some of the double pounding moments will rattle your spinal column into submission.  Wild guitar solos towards the end of the song and sounding similar to Morbid Angel in some spots.  The album cover has been spit-shined, like the others, brighter and is more eye appealing.  The remaster does help, because the original recording I felt was a little flat, it still is, like the guitars and overall sound was not as full sounding as the previous albums.

Pessimist were and still are an important underground death metal band and I cannot wait for the long overdue fourth album.  These reissues have bonus songs, better looking album covers, enhanced sound and really these are terrific reissues.  These are Buy or Die items of the fullest order!!

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Frank Rini
September 7th, 2021


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