REVIEW: PESTILENCE – “Exitivm”
Before their hiatus, Dutch death metal stalwarts Pestilence released four influential albums of high quality and established themselves as a classic. Starting off with the more thrash-y death metal style, Pestilence moved on to a more technical and progressive direction by the time they got to ‘Spheres’. The transition was successful, but the band left this experimental thread untied when they decided to disband to focus on other projects. Their return in 2009 sealed the fate of the interesting direction they were going with ‘Spheres’, when they took a more straightforward death metal approach. The follow-up albums mostly followed down the same path with a little bit of tech-death in the mix. ‘Exitivm’ does not tread far from that path, with death metal conservatively sprinkled with technical writing and symphonic pieces.
‘Exitivm’ picks up where ‘Hadeon’ left off. ‘Hadeon’ was definitely Pestilence’s best release after their reunion, so that is good news. Patrick Mameli’s vocals are a lot more ‘open’ and powerful than they’ve been in the last couple of decades. The mixing is a little on the louder side which is apparent with how the drums sound, although the orchestral elements require a more wholesome sound and space, and audio dynamics. The riffs are aplenty though, and very well strung together.
Outside of the synthy intro and outro, there are no fillers really, Pestilence just blasts one track after another without slowing down. While the ferocity and the energy doesn’t die down, one point to nitpick is that it gets a little monotone by the end of it. The symphonic shadow has almost an omnipresence in the album and thematically represents the cosmic unknown overshadowing everything. The riffs also in places have an almost futuristic tint to them, and the bass has a pretty strong presence. The first single that was released, “Morbvs Propagationem”, is also the first track after the intro, and it sets the pace for what’s to come – sharp and short death metal bursts with interesting tech-death licks here and there.
With ‘Exitivm’, Pestilence improves upon its modern stylistic choice with tighter tracks and purposeful riff structures. While every track packs a punch, what eludes is the superstructure that builds a form of dynamism throughout the album. That makes it more a compilation of tasty riffing than a cohesive unit behaving monolithically. If you like their modern offerings, then this one should happily spin on your tables.