Pestilence - Hadeon
Hammerheart Records
Death Metal
13 songs (39:17)
Release year: 2018
Pestilence, Hammerheart Records
Reviewed by Goat

The eighth full-length from these Dutch death metal legends is, unsurprisingly, much like the sixth and seventh. Where Doctrine and Obsideo leant heavily on the more brutal side of Pestilence's sound, Hadeon dials it back a little with less downtuning and more of the jazz fusion and thrash influences that marked past classics like Spheres (yes, a classic!) and Testimony of the Ancients. It feels more like that era of Pestilence than the band have managed in years, if still very clearly modern in style, and is almost completely free of eccentricities like heavy-handed anti-religious themes or naming every song in the first few seconds. Sure, such things are cute and gives each album a personality in a way that other long-running death metal bands couldn't begin to replicate, but does give the impression that Pestilence are more interested in experimenting than simply making excellent death metal.

So, Hadeon should be right up the alley of any fan of the band's nineties' period, and although it never hits those heights or pushes the genre as much as Patrick Mameli and co used to, it's still a well-put together album of death metal. Joining Patty M are three musicians new to me, but clearly expert at their craft; Septimiu Harsan on drums, Tilen Hudrap on bass, and Calin Paraschiv on lead guitar. I'd once have complained about missing big names like Dave Haley and Patrick Uterwijk (this being only the third Pestilence album that he hasn't played on) but their replacements are so seamless that it's simply not an issue. Harsan especially has a thrashy blast that fits the old-school feel well and provides a solid base for the guitars, and it's a relief to hear that the production (by Mameli, with mastering by Dan Swanö) leaves plenty of space to hear the bass.

The songs themselves are tightly controlled mixtures of technicality and melody driven by the guitars, slipping and sliding around like metallic serpents on Non Physical Extent but equally capable of heavier churning as on the following Multi Dimensional. As I've noted in past reviews, you can tell Mameli loves his guitars, as the solos are almost lovingly crafted and just perfectly placed in each song, and with the electronic effects gone they're even easier to appreciate. And they're excellently-written, riffs functioning as hooks and drawing you in before the song twists sideways. There are missteps, of course; intro Unholy Transcript is decently atmospheric in a Nile-y way but a little too long at just under two minutes, and why does an album so concise need intros and interludes anyway? And the vocoder on Ultra Demons and Astral Projection just feels out of place and gimmicky - it was interesting and unique when Cynic did it, but Mameli is a good enough vocalist that his growls and shrieks don't need enhancement. Yet all in all Pestilence have a lot left in the tank, taking a formula that other bands would have run into the ground and tinkering with it successfully enough that it feels fresh and relevant four albums into this macabre resurrection.

Killing Songs :
Non Physical Extent, Multi Dimensional, Manifestations, Timeless
Goat quoted 80 / 100
Other albums by Pestilence that we have reviewed:
Pestilence - Obsideo reviewed by Goat and quoted 83 / 100
Pestilence - Doctrine reviewed by Goat and quoted 86 / 100
Pestilence - Malleus Maleficarum reviewed by Goat and quoted CLASSIC
Pestilence - Spheres reviewed by Goat and quoted CLASSIC
Pestilence - Resurrection Macabre reviewed by Goat and quoted 70 / 100
To see all 7 reviews click here
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