It’s fair to say that in 2014, Pestilence fans mourned when main man Patrick Mameli announced he was disbanding the group a second time. This proved to be short-lived when the band returned two years later with fresh blood in the ranks. Now on the cusp of releasing their 8th LP, Hadeon (via Hammerheart Records), Pestilence are stronger than ever and are ready to show the world why the death metal legends aren’t ready to die yet.
Hadeon begins with the exotic flavoured intro track “Unholy Transcript” before bursting into “Non-Physical Existent”. Straight from the first note, many Pestilence fans will be ecstatic. The song marks a return to the thrash side of the band that they built their early career on. The riffs are fast, furious and steeped in old-skool attitude – gone are the 8-string guitars and relentless blastbeats and in turn, Hadeon brings an overall sound reminiscent of Pestilence fan favourite Testimony of the Ancients.
“Non-Physical Existent” sets the tone for Hadeon perfectly as song after song continues the trend of aggressive riffing and thrashing energy. Pestilence newcomers Tilen Hudrap (bass) and Septimiu Harsan (drums) bring expert musicianship and an intense performance which when coupled with Mameli’s virtuoso guitar playing and guttural barking makes for a band at the top of their game. Previous guitarist Santiago Dobles is also on the album, though has since been replaced in the line-up by Calin Paraschiv.
Though the sound overall evokes Testimony of the Ancients (albeit with more punch due to the modern production), the music on Hadeon showcases classic elements of the Pestilence sound from throughout their career while still sounding original. Following the lead of “Non-Physical Existent”, “Multi-Dimensional”, “Oversoul” and “Materialization” feature expert use of dischords which by nature sound jarring but in Pestilence’s hands they don’t sound out of place. The balance of the atonality with the tonal octave chords delivered intense thrashing and chugging is headbanging-ly infectious.
Pestilence’s jazz fusion and progressive influences are exhibited at Hadeon’s halfway point starting with “Astral Projection”. The song blends thrashing riffs with slower sections of odd time riffs backed up by eerie synths and robotic vocals. Though the sections are drastically different, they blend together seamlessly and make for a refreshing listen. “Discarnate Entity” follows with a clean intro and technical ideas balanced with more straight-up riffing. Bassist Tilen Hudrap takes the spotlight in “Subdivisions” with a bouncy jazz-influenced solo. As proven on Hadeon so far, Pestilence have managed to perfectly balance the technical and progressive aspects to their sound with the more straight-up and brutal. Overly technical and busy riffing has made for difficult listening in the past, but here the band has got it spot on.
Second Opinion (Ricky) No-one knows what is going to happen next when it comes to Patrick Mameli. Sometimes I don’t even think he knows himself where to turn but one thing I can tell you is when he concentrates on Pestilence, he has produced music of an extremely high calibre. With Hadeon, Patrick has released what could have been the follow up to Testimony of the Ancients, a record that was flawless and highly regarded in the death metal circle. Even the production is as close as you will get to Testimony.
There are of course the spacey, jazz influences in the riffs that influenced Pestilence’s later works, however I think it’s fair to say that a happy medium of old-school Pestilence and where they left off in 1993. In a nutshell, this kicks the last three Pestilence albums into touch, with something from every song putting a smile onto the face of this old school death metal fan.
Welcome back, Patrick.
The home stretch of Hadeon features more of the same. Each track is chock full of memorable and catchy riffs, all featuring classic Pestilence ideas. “Manifestations” gets the head banging with mid-paced thrash chugging, varying tempos and octave chords are on display with “Timeless” and “Ultra-Demons” with the latter’s main riff being a particular earworm. “Ultra Demons” also sees the return of the vocoded robotic voice and differing time signatures, the progressive element blending expertly with the brutal. “Layers of Reality” is a more direct deathrash affair and closer “Electro Magnetic” continues the moshing pace (with subtle use of blastbeats) before ending the album downtempo with a final 7/4 octave earworm.
Looking at Hadeon as a whole, Pestilence’s performance is particularly energetic and the band members showcase expert musicianship. Mameli and Dobles’s riffing is infectious and stays in mind long after listening. The guitar solos are also notable for their shredding flair and jazz flavour. Hudrap and Harsan also make for a tight and heavy rhythm section, with the bass adding a distinctively clear yet weighty sound to the biting guitars. It’s refreshing to hear the band return to a more old-skool sound. The modern sound of more recent efforts had its merits, but overall the sound of Hadeon complements Pestilence’s style better.
Dutch death metal legends Pestilence have released arguably one of the strongest albums of their career (and potential album of the year) with Hadeon. The songs are a perfect blend of thrashing death metal and the band’s progressive/fusion leanings. The music exudes old-skool spirit but remains modern and is overall insanely catchy. One listen just isn’t enough as the impulse to consume Hadeon keeps coming back after every spin. Pestilence is the death metal epidemic that refuses to die and with awesome new albums like Hadeon, this resurrection macabre is here to stay.
Highlights: “Non-Physical Existent”, “Multi-Dimensional”, “Astral Projection”, “Discarnate Entity” and “Ultra-Demons”
Hadeon is out on March 5th in physical forms, digitally now.