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Pestilence - Testimony of the Ancients CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.79 | 59 ratings

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4 stars PESTILENCE now dives into progressive territory on this very strong album, which has a feel very much like DEATH's Human of the same year. After the departure of the densely guttural Martin Van Drunen from the band, guitarist Patrick Mameli took over on vocal duties and he has a more Chuck Schuldiner like tone to his harsh vocals. ATHEIST/CYNIC bassist Tony Choy also makes a guest appearance on this album too displaying his usual sophisticated jazz oriented style, which further helps PESTILENCE take its place in this category of bands.

Everything is less bent on an all out assault to the senses and more melody and intricacy is allowed into the music. Much like DEATH's evolution, it retains the chaotic death metal approach but benefits from a much broader palette of knowledge with which to create it. While the standard of the playing is not quite up to Human, it does surpass it for use of light and shade dynamics and atmospheres. They enjoyed placing lead breaks in amongst the heaviest sections of songs that were strikingly calm and melodic by comparison, which then mutated seamlessly from a gentle solo into chaotic death metal runs up and down the fretboard. Examples of this are found in the disturbingly catchy Twisted Truth and the album highlight Land of Tears, which has an accompanying video. I find that juxtoposition helped this record stand out nicely, as when these parts hit they were not too subtle and are blended into the songs with skill and thought. Stigmatized shows well the melodic sensibilities that are creeping in to make the most of an already complex piece, and The Secrecies of Horror mixes in understated keyboard parts to a more typical song.

Another curiosity in this album is that each song is followed by a brief instrumental interlude that serves as a transition between songs. Mostly these are atmospheric devices led by layers of vocals and keyboards with some guitar parts thrown in occassionally. Depending on who you ask, they either love or hate these parts. I can understand how they might be seen as trying too hard to make this sound progressive, but I believe they all relate nicely to the themes of the songs and don't feel out of place.

The band later became obsessed by jazz-fusion and melded that with their established sound for their final album, which sounds much more ATHEIST than DEATH. But even though PESTILENCE are primarily an influenced band they still made worthy contributions to the evolution of metal and are remembered fondly, especially for this release!

Xanadu97 | 4/5 |


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