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Pestilence Summon Dark Gods on Obsideo

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Damn you, Gorguts, and your 2013-hogging ways.  You string together a mouth-watering lineup that threatens for years to gift us with a new album, so long that we begin to wonder how bloated or Dysrhythmiesque it might turn out, and then BAM!  You unload Colored Sands on us and we love it too much for words and we struggle to listen to anything else enough to fill out the remainder of our year end list.

The worst offense, however, is the way your band and album have made us wary to heap praise on any deserving death metal that delivers one iota less dynamic of an experience.  Such hesitation is crippling and unfair.  Step forward, Pestilence.  Receive your honors.

On Obsideo, Pestilence get it all right.  With its failing life support intro, the title track opener demonstrates in fiercely literal fashion that death (metal) truly does begin when life ends.  From there, Pestilence executes an admirable tech death ground game, occasionally putting the ball into the rarified air of tasteful studio effects and digi-noise (as on “Distress” and “NecroMorph”).

There’s danger in suggesting a sonic relationship to Meshuggah (most notably on songs like “Aura Negative” and “Transition”), lest you djent-jumping motherfuckers imagine that this Dutch institution is interested in chasing anybody’s bandwagon.  Instead, let’s agree that the two bands share an affinity for time-bending chug which at times appears to be more machine than man, and top it with extraordinarily soulful guitar solos.  There’s also the bands’ shared thrash lineage, always evident but never simple or obvious.  And of course, that mildly interesting cover art (in combination with the album’s title) feels like close kin to the Swedes’ Obzen.  Don’t read too much into it, though; this record rules on its own merits.

Musically, Obsideo brooks no argument.  Patrick Mameli’s bland growl is a minor disappointment in comparison, as it never adds more than the predictable human anchor of revulsion expected in this genre.  Uninspiring, maybe, but even that shrugging dissatisfaction ebbs with repeated listens.  At just under thirty-five minutes, the masters’ third next-gen offering (seventh overall) Obsideo offers layered death metal in the perfect serving size.  Listen loud.  Listen often.  Among a throng of exceptional death metal releases this year, Pestilence deserves to be remembered.

Pestilence’s Obsideo is out now on Candlelight. Stream the track “Aura Negative” here and purchase the album here.

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