Pestilence seem a band reborn.
Their recent old school live set had long time fans elated not just at being given the chance to enjoy the classics in the flesh, but so finely and aggressively delivered.
Few would have expected it, given the air of farce that has attended the band in recent years.
But old school sets are comparatively easy: you get up and bang out the greatest hits with some young hungry pups.
Much harder are quality new albums. And Pestilence’s two comeback efforts were not, it’s fair to say, fantastic.
‘Obsideo’ though was better. And so too is ‘Hadeon’.
‘Non Physical Existence’ opens the album in a way that leaves you in no doubt of who’s playing: that contradictory and jarring chord sequence is pure ‘Spheres’ – except faster and more aggressive. Good stuff.
I could live without the rather dull ‘Multi-Dimensional’, though its nods to Voivod are clear, and the speed is kept up, and ‘Oversoul’ is plain filler.
But the thrashing speed is back with the excellent ‘Materialization’, with those nice ride cymbal tinkles setting it all off and a cracking guitar solo.
Just when you’re about to wonder if this is all variations on a theme, ‘Astral Projection’ wanders off on a strange, oneiric voyage with robo-vocals and Allan Holdsworth style synth textures.
Its slightly clanging beat is also pretty cool. So it’s a bit of a highlight.
Now, as much as I like it – and good Pestilence is a thing to savour – I’d say that they’re pushing it with thirteen tracks here. It is a case of variation on a theme, albeit a good one.
Which basically means that by the time ‘Manifestations’ swings round, the sameyness of the guitar and drum style do start to become a little predictable.
I’m not sure what could solve this. ‘Obsideo’ had energetic blastbeats peppered here and there that just gave that little extra bit of thrust – and while this album is credibly speedy, it’s in a quite old-school sense.
Mameli’s tiring habit of just shouting the song title and calling it a chorus has also crept back in here too.
All in all it’s enjoyable for sure: proper Pestilence in a modern and relevant mix of ‘Testimony’ and ‘Spheres’ (and who can knock that?).
But I’d have liked more daring. More strangeness. More off the wall arrangements, like the standout oddball track ‘Ultra Demons’. And definitely less of it: thirteen reconfigurations of the same song is just too testing.
But… it’s Pestilence, and so wonderfully, authentically so.
So I’m a bit torn.
Basically, it’s cool to have them around. And that’s no small pleasure, even if they’re not exactly busting a creative gut. Top marks though for some sterling artwork.
3.8 / 5 – Earl Grey ::: 07/03/18