Pestilence – “Hadeon” (Hammerheart Records)
One of the original cornerstones of Dutch death metal, Pestilence, who at one time included in their ranks Martin van Drunen (later of Asphyx) and Tony Choy (of Cynic), rose to fame thanks to their heady mix of death metal with jazzy, technical elements along with prog, something flirted upon in the 80s by bands like Atheist, but never to any great mainstream acclaim. Actually enlisting Choy for their 3rd album “Testimony Of The Ancients”, this techno prog death metal release would stand alongside Death’s own “Human” and Atheist’s “Unquestionable Presence”, all also issued in 1991. Pushing the boundaries even further by incorporating jazz fusion into 1993’s “Spheres”, the band eventually broke up in 1994. Now onto their second ‘reunion’ (although guitarist vocalist Patrick Mameli remains the sole founder member, “Hadeon” actually continues the journey of “Testimony Of The Ancients” certainly to a more diversity welcoming world, with the band’s original techno prog death style a lot more commonplace making this 8th release even more timely than ever! Recruiting renowned Slovenian bassist Tilen Hudrap (Paradox, Testament (live), VR) to continue Choy’s sterling bass runs – just check out his bass solo on ‘Subdivisions’ – Mameli’s timeless gruff roars and chundering death riffola continue in fine style on the likes of ‘Ultra Demons’, propelled by mid tempo double bass drumming of Septimiu Hărşan amid synthesised vocals and some wonderful jazzy guitar work heading towards Primus land. Increasing the speed on ‘Layers Of Reality’, it’s full on 80s death metal contrasted by the twin guitar melodies as Santiago Dobles (Aghora, Cynic, Death) adds his axe to Mameli’s foray as the jazz fusion speed twists go into overdrive. “Hadeon”‘s frantic closer ‘Electro Magnetic’ brings the album to a brilliant end, taking straight from Death’s early 90s work with its technical guitars, speed runs, and exotic elements. An excellent return to form, Mameli has brought Pestilence back at a crucial moment when as a genre founding father its work could not be appreciated better!