Originally written by Erik Thomas
I’ll try not to rehash the last 20 years of Pestilence and death metal, as I assume if you are here at this site reading this review, you are at least somewhat versed on Pestilence’s history, discography and personnel. Personally, I thought 2009’s Resurrection Macabre was one of the more unnecessary, tired and unsuccessful death metal reunions of the last few years, so it wasn’t exactly with bated breath that I waited for yet another Pestilence album.
But here we are with Patrick Mameli desperately trying to stay relevant under the Pestilence moniker while some of his cohorts have moved onto pretty successful outlets including Hail of Bullets and Obscura. And while Doctrine is a slight improvement from Resurrection Macabre, someone needs to tell Mameli to just move on and forge ahead under a different name so Pestilence’s legacy isn’t completely sullied.
The problem with revived, legendary acts is that they will always be compared to their classic releases, no matter how much the line up or sound changes: Pestilence will always be about Consuming Impulse and Testimony of the Ancients (over-rated as I think it is). Throw in the fact that Mameli seems to be desperate to include as many differing death metal elements as possible, and the end result, while better than Resurrection Macabre, is still a bit of a mess. You can hear distinct nods to the band’s past as thrashy, simpler and burlier death metal (“Amgod”, “Salvation”) often tangles with twangy, proggy tech-death (“Deception”) or both (“Doctrine”, “Absolution”), and there are even elements of stuttering modern djent metal (“Dissolve”,“Sinister”, ”Divinity”) which just come across as really forced, like Mameli is trying to fit in with the modern cool kids. And just as a side note: Even with bassist Jeroen Paul Thesseling (ex-Obscura) back in the fray, littering the songs with oodles of twangy bass lines does not a tech death metal album make.
But what’s disconcerting is the utterly schizophrenic vocals of Mameli himself. While it’s scattershot, the music does have its moments and is wrapped in a robust production, but with Mameli wailing (we are talking high-pitched King Diamond wails here and there), shrieking and growling in desperate exasperation for most of the tracks, it derails some of the decent riffs. I get it: Religion is bad and makes you angry (the album’s theme), but c’mon Patrick, your start to “Amgod “ is downright painful.
Whereas Resurrection Macabre was just a tired lifeless attempt at a comeback, Doctrine is a more adventurous but ultimately muddled affair that sees a band confused as to whether they want to look to the past or the present. Ultimately none of the tracks end up as a memorable comparison to either, and after two efforts, it leaves Pestilence as a sadly failed reunion in the grand scheme of things.
Now wheres my copy of Consuming Impulse? I need to hear “Out of the Body”, Reduced to Ashes” and “Suspended Animation”….