Execration Diatribes, is the debut album from Portuguese death metal threesome Pestifer. I must admit to not having heard these guys before but their name alone, not to mention their provenance (the band hail from Portugal), piqued my interest.
This is really classic death metal with a nod to the halcyon days of Morbid Angel and early Sepultura. Think Morbid Visions/Schizophrenia (perhaps building on the Portuguese theme). The album contains nine tracks of brutal intensity interspersed with numerous catchy/thrashing riffs and some fantastically whimsical touches (from the eerie carnival-like intro track to the circus drum roll intro to track seven, “Nothing Remains”), reinforcing the Schizophrenia vibe.
The aforementioned and short opener “March of the Dead Orchestra” starts proceedings off with an eerily atmospheric and discordant combination of keyboards and violins building to a crescendo before finishing with the bang of the gong (I am sure it was a gong) leaving the listener wondering whatever’s going to happen next.
The answer is provided by the excellent second track “Mars Exult” which takes proceedings straight down a more traditional and brutal path combining frenetic/frenzied guitar, menacing vocals and barnstorming drumming to great effect. The superb breakdown in the middle of the song providing a nice respite from the onslaught.
This formula is repeated throughout all nine tracks, with the more straightforward balls-out death metal brutality broken up by some really refreshing touches from the ascending intro and broodingly catchy riff on of the album’s highlight “Awaken by Death”, to pit-inducing breakdowns and some really well-crafted and melodic soloing throughout – a welcome break from the usual haywire approach of many of the band’s peers. Some of the riffing throughout is fantastic, from the stomping main riff on track three “Brutal Eruption of Chaos” to the pure thrash gold that steals the show on track seven “Nothing Remains”.
All of this carried on a juggernaut of insanely good drumming (great use of the ride cymbal!), and vocalist (and guitarist) Pedro Silva’s gruesome but yet audible vocals. Sound-wise they again borrow heavily from their influences and it works well, managing to sound both full and heavy despite the band consisting of only three members, with frontman Pedro also carrying out rhythm and lead guitar duties.
The final track, “Confront Death”, provides the LP with a nice touch of symmetry finishing much like it started, launching furiously into some insane riffing/machine gun blast beats and then ending (and you have to wait for it) with a uniquely unnerving outro which I trust is a clutch of demons feasting on some poor lost soul…
For a debut opus these guys really produce the goods here, delivering an album full of old school class with touches of real originality and experimentation belaying a band of relative immaturity. Definitely worth checking out, and even better for those resident here in the UK the album is being released on 14 February. Surely an ideal Valentine’s offering for that special person in your life.
Execration Diatribes is released 14 February 2017 via Lavadome.