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Pestilence - Spheres CD (album) cover

SPHERES

Pestilence

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.07 | 70 ratings

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Prog Sothoth
3 stars One of the strangest death metal albums out there that is still firmly entrenched in the 'death metal' sound, Spheres immediately challenges the listener with its unusual production qualities combined with odd tempo rhythms and anguished vocals. It's an interesting beast, and an interesting stylistic shift for the band which would not revisit this unique approach to metal in the future, at least until now.

Utilizing a producer whose forte is not exactly abrasive metal, the focus is more on making sure each instrument is heard clearly than pummeling the senses, and the guitars don't weigh in with a particularly 'heavy' distortion. In fact, they sound warm enough to cozy up to by the fireside. Bass playing is fretless and audible, and quite an excellent display of showmanship at times by a man who much later would be part of another band with sc-fi leaning recordings named Obscura for a period of time. Drumming is busy and difficult while neither being particularly jazzy nor blasting away with fast thrashy tempos. There's a sort of mid-tempo vibe to this entire endeavor while creatively bouncing around with its time signatures.

The vocals help keep the death metal flame within this group alive, consisting of unusually throaty growls that remind me of Death's vocalist or Lemmy from Motorhead in the throes of one screaming mad seizure. Notable proggish cut "Personal Energy" stands out from the rest of the tracks with its mellow flow and distant robotic vocals providing atmosphere.

Another feature of this record is the synth usage, although in this case it's synth guitars rather than apparently "uncool" keyboards (which they had used in their previous effort). The band emphasizes that no keyboards were used in the liner notes for this album. Great, except that some of this synth guitar layers alone come across as a bit cheesy at times, like a score to some 1970s low budget sci-fi flick involving model spaceships dangling from strings chasing each other in front of a black curtain backdrop.

As a progressive metal album, it more than qualifies and possesses an individual sound that has hardly been duplicated since. It's also a style that can wear out its welcome, since many of these tracks have such similarities that the overall distinction of the album loses that aspect when it comes to individual tracks excepting the instrumentals and "Personal Energy". The vocals themselves can get a bit irritating at times, not because of growling itself, but this sort of "throaty" wail branch of growling is not exactly my favorite design of the form.

An interesting and odd interpretation of extreme metal.

Prog Sothoth | 3/5 |

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