It’s been around 25 years or so since Pestilence last infected Scotland. Boasting an old-skool set comprised of classic material from the band’s first four albums (Malleus Maleficarum, Consuming Impulse, Testimony of the Ancients, and Spheres) on the current “Fight the Plague” tour, anticipation for the show is high. With their latest album Hadeon (CDs and LPs are available on this tour) showcasing a revitalized band full of old-skool spirit, Pestilence are certain to deliver.
Opening the show are Brazilian extreme death merchants Rebaelliun. Their relentless death metal onslaught is impressive to watch, however the poor sound ruins it. There are a lot of fast blastbeats in the band’s sound and all that can be heard is clicking triggered drums. When the slow sections come in, the riffs are crushing and the guitar solos are intensely shredding, showcasing the band’s great musicianship. The overall performance and crowd reaction is rather lukewarm. There is little movement onstage and a couple of long breaks between songs, and the audience subsequently responded with polite cheers. It’s a shame since Rebaelliun’s brand of death metal is uncompromising and aggressive, and a better sound might overall make for a better show.
Things have improved by the time Pestilence hit the stage. The sound is much clearer and all elements are sitting more equal in the mix. However, the guitars are still a little quiet and result in a less punishing sound. As the intro track “Malleus Maleficarum” plays, tension is rising and when the band blast into “Antropomorphia”, the heads begin to bang. The crowd seems to be lacking in fire with only a few moshers thrashing along. Debut album Malleus Maleficarum is well represented with “Parricide”, “Subordinate to the Domination” and “Commandments” performed with immense speed and aggression.
Frontman Patrick Mameli seems a little timid when addressing the audience. Speaking gently into mic (with the exception of introducing songs), Mameli’s demeanour is in stark contrast to the intense music he makes. In comparison, the crowd are warming up with more heads pounding throughout Consuming Impulse classics “Dehydrated”, “Chronic Infection” and “Echoes of Death”.
Despite the subdued demeanour onstage, Mameli and co. aren’t shy when playing with their tight and heavy performance. Going into the Testimony of the Ancients portion of the set, the energy was more palpable. More moshers emerge for raging classics “Secrecies of Horror” and “Land of Tears” with the pit opening up and becoming more violent. With the crowd more engaged, chants and raised fists appear during slow moments of “Twisted Truth” and “Presence of the Dead” and the louder guitars make for a particularly crushing “Prophetic Revelations”.
Pestilence closed what seems like a rather short set with the sole Spheres song “Mind Reflections” and Consuming Impulse bruiser “Out of the Body” before somewhat quietly leaving the stage. The intense mosh continues as a final fan sails across the crowd and the band showcase their virtuoso musicianship through the technical riffing, making for an impressive and fun show.
Pestilence deliver a solid performance, however in the end it seems like the gig is missing something. Audio is packed pretty much to capacity yet it seems like the fans aren’t quite as fired up as they usually are. Maybe it’s because of the poor sound spoiling a great set? Maybe it’s because it’s Tuesday and there’s still a few more grinding days of work ahead? Maybe it’s because the set seemed too short (“Bacterial Surgery”, “Chemotherapy” or “Suspended Animation” anyone?). Whatever the reason, Pestilence played a great show and when they return to Glasgow to unleash ragers from their awesome new album Hadeon, the gig is certain to be more intense.
Photos by Coops Gig Photography