Expanding Oblivion

I once read a review regarding Belgium’s Pestifier and their then, sophomore release, Reaching the Void, where the group was described as sounding like a collision of Obscura, Beyond Creation, and Vektor. I’ve always like that analogy of the band. It’s true, clean, concise, and includes by association other influential acts such as Pestilence, Death, Cynic, and Atheist, as well as the shades of Watchtower, Sadus, Gorguts, Gorod, and even Coroner that creep into Pestifier‘s sound. After a six year gap, the band emerges from the land of chocolate, waffles, beer, and the mighty Jean-Claude Van Damme with Expanding Oblivion, a nice little slab of tech-death that shines with the creativity and authority of the original statesmen of progressive/technical death metal, as well as providing a more than apt cohesiveness within the album’s forty-five minute run time.

Album opener, “The Remedy” is the perfect choice to kick off the foray of extremity that unleashes itself throughout Expanding Oblivion. The track is technical, smart, full of compelling change ups, and bursting with Pestilence/Atheist-like driving rhythms, both clean and complex. Not to mention the Cynic-y vibes in the extremely tight, robotic like freneticism achieved within the bass and drum workings. Things only get better from there, as “Ominous Wanderers” comes in hot, follow up pursuit to the album’s great opening, as one of the many highlights found within Expanding Oblivion.

I won’t lie to you, the song is total Cynic worship…and it’s fucking excellent. The drums, the bass, the solos, everything, except for the vocals, scream of Cynic and that’s okay, because Pestifier does it so damn well, and convincingly, makes it their own sound. The band does manage to get a bit speedier at times in their approach, bringing out some quality blasting to help set off the impressive attack already found within. Some Andy LaRoque styled melody rears its head at the 3:32 mark leading into some vicious soloing that ends up recalling the theme of the Ghost House levels on Super Mario Bros. Seriously, check out the solo at the four minute mark and where it goes for the next fifteen seconds…Now tell me that ain’t some fucking Super Mario Bros.

Great hooks and progressive passages continue to abound within Expanding Oblivion. Whether it’s the fortitude of the fretless bass mixed with the choppy and serpentine riffage of “Silent Spheres”, the Leading Visions-era of Gorod-like adroitness and atmosphere found within the fantastic solos and charging, blasting drums of “Swallower of Worlds”, or “Fractal Sentinels”, with its captivating bass lines and intelligent and concise drum work coming together in a wonderful driving force with terrific and melodious guitar/lead underscoring and musings on top of it all, you are destined to find some enthralling technicality and finesse that will tickle your metal fancy. Seriously, go to the 4:00 mark of  “Fractal Sentinels” and listen to the song’s closing…Now try to tell me that isn’t some truly artful, progressive, death metal beauty, climaxing into some sheer moving and powerful happenings.

Don’t let Pestifier fool you into thinking that they’re just another all flash and no substance, widdly-widdly, doodily doo ding dong doodily doo, type of act. These guys got the technical chops, yes, yes they do, but more importantly, Pestifier knows how to structure actual death metal songs. There’s a solid, defined path from point A to point B within their tracks, and even some repetition of killer riffs…(gasp! I know, right…a tech-death band that can actually revisit a good idea!?!). In fact, one of my favorite tracks on Expanding Oblivion is the more straight forward and traditional flavoring of “Grey Hosts”. The band pulls off a Morbid Angel meets Unleashed meets Pestilence vibe of mid paced authoritism with just enough Cynic-y bass work going on to keep things in the tech/progressive world. Showcasing a fantastic slow, bending, lurching riff of destruction, the song is a punishing heavy hitter. Halfway through things pick up and move into speedier territory, brandishing an Incantation like nature, though clinically cleaner in its presentation.

Though not really necessary to sell you on the band any further than I have already done so, I feel it would be a disservice to the group if I didn’t mention the album’s closing title track. “Expanding Oblivion” comes in as the album’s longest track, clocking in at a shade over seven minutes. The band does a marvelous job at keeping the attack diverse and intriguing with its speedy tech-death assault and intellectual drum work. A bit of a stop gap moment is applied within the first forty seconds of the track allowing a subtle, yet effective piano break before the track comes back in a change up display of droning and evocative riffing recalling that aforementioned Pestilence/Atheist influence as well as a tad of Gorguts-ian bravado. The track bridges all of what makes Pestifier an alluring act, and is sure to satisfy many a tech-death connoisseurs with its collection of catchy rhythms, melodious licks and leads, and Cynic-y laced robotic drums and bass flourishes.

I’ve counted myself as a blessed person during all these weeks of the Covid 19 pandemic. Not only have I been working steadily, but I’ve been steadily working my ass off. So much so that I ended up having to take a month long break from even working on reviews, as my days were pretty much consisting of nothing but a work, exercise, dinner, sleep, repeat routine. Obviously this got in the way of a few write-ups I was already working on, Expanding Oblivion being one of them. With that said, the album always found a way to sneak itself back into the limited listening time I’ve had available. Whether it be the drive to or from work, or during a lengthy weight lifting session, the album seemed to draw me unto itself with its impressive prowess. In fact, Expanding Oblivion has burrowed quite the aural wormhole in my ‘ol noggin with its more than competent and compelling attributes. Enough so that I would not be surprised if Pestifier and Expanding Oblivion don’t end up making their way onto my list of best albums of the year. If that isn’t enough of a recommendation for you to check out the band and album for yourself, then I don’t really know what to say other than, “your loss”.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Kristofor Allred
June 19th, 2020


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