Pestilence Attempts Comeback But Forgets What Makes Death Metal Great

Listen to a track from the upcoming Hadeon from longstanding Dutch band Pestilence, one is immediately struck by the similarity to late-1990s Morbid Angel: the riffs are there, albeit a bit impatient and tightly circular, but the whole experience is not. What is missing? To understand this, we must go to the core of what made death metal what it is.

If you wanted to explain to a normal person what death metal is, looking at the core of its spirit, you might haul out Slayer Hell Awaits, Hellhammer Apocalyptic Raids, and Bathory The Return… because these influenced the techniques, composition, and spirit of death metal. From Hellhammer and Slayer, it got its song structure and aesthetics; from Bathory its themes and riff technique.

Death metal took the original idea of metal, formed when Black Sabbath and others began using power chords to make phrasal riffs instead of harmony-oriented open chord riffs, and developed it further. This is different than doing something “new” or “progressing” because it means undertaking the much harder task of developing an idea further at a structural level instead of just changing aesthetics.

With the rise of underground metal, death metal adopted chromatic riffing and made the interplay between riffs form a narrative to each song. This abolished typical rock song structure and, because the guitar served as a melodic instrument instead of a harmonic one, forced vocals, bass and drums into a background role. How well the riffs fit together and portrayed an atmosphere, idea, or sensation defined the quality of the music.

Pestilence came from a solid death metal background with Consuming Impulse but showed a speed metal styled approach on Malleus Maleficarum, and this tension has stayed with the band for its entire career. The speed metal style of verse and chorus built on a singular theme that is present in the music is easier to jam on and use harmony to complement, where death metal rarely explicitly states its theme, only silhouetting it in the interaction between its many riffs. With speed metal, bands can set up a chord progression and develop it in layers of internal commentary like jazz, and this puts vocals back in position number one among the lead instruments.

“Non-Physical Existent” is a two-riff song with both based on the same note progression. It creates its intensity through the clash between a ripping circular high speed riff and a slower chromatic riff that uses odd harmony to distinguish notes in an otherwise linear theme. The song breaks into a solo section over one of the riffs, and has a type of turnaround the drops into the faster riff as a return. But there is no real interplay nor any narrative.

From the riffs themselves, this is a good song, but unfortunately, it is not death metal. Nor will it last because essentially it is a closed-circuit video of itself, a riff commented on by another, without resembling any particular experience or emotion, therefore being a null journey, more like stasis in space while riffs loop. It is better than not bad, but still not of real interest to the death metal fan.

22 Comments

Tags: , , , ,

Defeated Sanity – Disposal of the Dead Dharmata

This band from Germany has been around in one form or another since the 90s.  Besides having a reputation as an under-rated act, they actively tour and record.  They are considered technical/brutal death metal.  I would probably count them as old school death metal.  Several releases are available, and it feels somewhat unfair to look at just one release and judge, but lets try.
(more…)

11 Comments

Tags: , , , , , ,

Twilight of the CD

The compact disc- the highest quality and most sensible of all physical music formats- appears to be seeing its final days. Last Friday, Best Buy announced that by July 4th, all CDs will be removed from the shelves of the retail giant. What’s worse still, Target is engaged in fierce negotiations with executives from all of the labels that still stock CDs on its shelves and all signs point to the CD’s exit from Target as well.

With a compact disc exodus from retailers coupled with the vinyl-marketing-scheme’s continuance in places like Urban Outfitters, we’re likely seeing a complete retreat of the CD to the deep underground in the near future. But with smaller labels going all in on the cheap cost and high scene point tallies available in tapes, exactly what future does the CD format have?  And what is to come for metal CDs especially?
(more…)

33 Comments

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

[EXCLUSIVE] TRANS-OCALYPSE HERE: 1ST ALL-TRANS METAL BAND DECLARES WAR ON BLACK METAL

BREAKING:  On the last day of 2017, our editor predicted that a trans-gender wave of metal bands would arrive in 2018.  We are already getting our first dose of this a with “pink metal” pioneers PEOSPHOROS–  the world’s first all-trans metal band (excluding Cradle of Filth).  Destined to become the new face (and genitals) of metal and new heroes of progressive liberal metal scenesters everywhere, Peosphoros have immediately made their presence felt by declaring war on the most dangerous and anti-human genre of all: black metal.  It takes guts to take pioneer a foray into metal, the most masculine of all music genres, but how does Peosphoros’s trap-metal fare musically?

(more…)

28 Comments

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

/dmg/ DEATH METAL GENERAL: RETIREMENT PLAGUE EDITION

Satyricon were always a band to live in the shadow of better bands and thus it is only fitting for their farewell U.S. tour to suffer the same fate.  The band announced their last trip to the United States just hours before Slayer’s shocking announcement that they will soon cease to exist. Understandably, this caused the Satyricon “news” to be buried deep under a pile of apathy. Feels bad, man.

(more…)

20 Comments

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

NIGHTMARE: LORDS OF CHAOS MOVIE COMPLETED, PREMIERED AT SUNDANCE


It’s actually happening.  After decades of “will they” speculation, directors picking up and dropping the project, rumors of Twilight actors playing Varg Vikernes, and a boycott by virtually every member of the original scene the Rory Culkin led bastardization of Norway’s finest Lords of Chaos premiered at Sundance this week.  In the ultimate defeat, death, and burial of Norweigian black metal- a movement opposed to everything commercial, financial, and mainstream- we will soon see a polished Hollywood narrative of this beloved movement pollution theaters across the globe.

(more…)

42 Comments

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

THE END OF SLAYER

Death looms over thrash metal’s most sinister (and probably most influential) band: Slayer.  After 35 years of touring and recording, the demise of the band’s most valuable member Jeff Hanneman, and age coupled with 25 years of creative rut, Slayer is about to expire.  The band announced via a short video that it’s time for one last ride before a long overdue end.

(more…)

11 Comments

Tags: , , , , , , , ,