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Pestilence - Spheres CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.18 | 124 ratings

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Frenetic Zetetic

1993 was a hell of a year for progressive extreme technical metal, with bands like Pestilence, Cynic, Death, and Atheist all taking it to new levels in different directions, simultaneously. The year is packed with gems. This is far and away one of them.

If you find yourself a fan of Return to Forever, Alan Holdsworth, Weather Report, or electric period Miles Davis in any aspect whatsoever - there is considerable gold here for you. This review isn't going to be a typical song by song analysis, but rather a slightly different take on why this usually-dismissed recording is actually a very good representation of the highest forms of novelty and experimentation taken in the genre. It transcends typical death metal without losing any of that resolution and intensity of the signal, while somehow making a genuinely scary sounding guitar-synth heavy sci-fi sounding album at the same time.

First, a brief personal history with the album. I acquired an original 1993 Roadrunner Records pressing of this album, back in approximately 2007. Being that this review is written in 2020, it's funny to think I got said disc at the midway point of my relationship WITH it. That means I've had plenty of time spinning this disc - often several times in a single sitting (car rides to and from band practices over the years)!

This album divides listeners, especially those that consider themselves diehard fans of brutal music. I think it's a shame to dismiss the experimental gymnastics occurring on this record, because the songwriting and consistency absolutely commits 100% to what it's setting out to achieve.

I'd argue that it's such a divisive recording precisely because it hammers the archetypal elements of these genres down, so much so, that any listener coming from a strictly-metal background won't know what to make of it. Usually, a negative response is garnered due to the synth guitar effects (which just sound like a good Roland Jupiter synth with modulation anyway), or the often labeled "lifeless" guitar tone. Yes, I'm arguing that all of these things took early 90's technical death metal in a very unique direction, equal to both Cynic "Focus" and Atheist "Unquestionable Presence".

I will close my review by mentioning I was at one point in daily communication with Patrick Mameli of Pestilence - I was their web administrator from 2012-2018. He was very patient answering all my fan boi questions about the album! Again, this is essential jazz fusion metal. Get it now!

Frenetic Zetetic | 5/5 |


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