Apr 022013

pes·ti·lence  (pst-lns)
1. A usually fatal epidemic disease, especially bubonic plague.
2. A pernicious, evil influence or agent.

(Not long ago TheMadIsraeli concluded a reassessment of the discography of Kataklysm that he termed “Higher Criticism”. Now he’s ready to embark on yet another journey, as explained in this introduction.)

Pestilence are a band who have the odd distinction of being influential, innovative, under-recognized, and controversial all at the same time.  One of the pioneers of progressive death metal along with the likes of Death, Atheist, and Cynic, Pestilence have been subjected to massive scrutiny due to mastermind Patrick Mameli’s inability to commit to a sound, as well as the fact that in some cases those different sounds have had absolutely nothing to do with each other.  Mameli’s style of angular and melodic juxtaposition within his riffage is the one thing that has defined Pestilence for as long as they have existed, and is perhaps the only consistent factor from album to album.

I have picked Pestilence as a subject for this “Higher Criticism” series not only for their diverse, eclectic discography (which has maintained an ethic of, and dedication to, sonic depths of depravity), but also because they are a favorite band I hold dear.  The Pestilence name represents a steadfast keeping of the faith, as it were, in maintaining the brutality, the visceral nature of death metal, while also representing an ever-evolving introspection of the sound being conveyed.  Stated more briefly, the band have continually pushed the envelope.

I figured the selection of Pestilence for this this assessment was also appropriate because the band have an upcoming album, Obsideo, and thus are about to write the next chapter in their varied career.

I will follow the same rules as in the Kataklysm series, of course.  I do want to add a note concerning EP’s and demo’s though.  Kataklysm didn’t have much at all in this respect that was worth assessing in terms of content and importance to the band’s growth; Pestilence, however, does. So in this case they will definitely be touched on to a much greater degree.

So let me know in the comments, how do you feel about Pestilence on the whole?

I’ll see you guys again when we hit their first two demo’s, Dysentery and The Penance.

EDITOR’S NOTE: By coincidence, the latest issue of DECIBEL magazine, which hit my mailbox last weekend, names Consuming Impulse by Pestilence as the 99th addition to the DECIBEL HALL OF FAME. The article includes a long, interesting interview with the Pestilence members who recorded that album — Patrick Mameli, Martin Van Drunen, Marco Foddis, and Patrick Uterwijk.




  1. Love Pestilence, but I’m a latecomer, didn’t get them for ages and then about 4 years ago Consuming Impulse just consumed me (haha). Looking forward to the new album and this feature!!!!

  2. Pestilence hasnt been worth a damn since Consuming Impulse…for me this is one of the easiest bands to review..buy Maleus..but Consuming..pretend the bands broke up after that 🙂

    • I always see people say this, yet they can never articulate the opinion =P

      • ..because of internal conflict they lost one of the most unique death metal vocalists in MVD…Mameli is average at best

        There was very little evolution going from death/thrash to prog…unlike a band like Death, where you could see Chuck building on his previous ideas and actually track the direction of the band. Pestilence basically just dropped Spheres on people like an unwanted brick

        The actually music itself was/is bland, forgettable, and ultimately not put together all that well. Youve basically got rather watered down death metal combined with some poorly incorporated jazz elements. We’ve seen it before..we’ve seen it done better. Pestilence went from being a premiere death metal band to a poor mans Atheist and has never really bounced back

        • FYI..this is all my personal take on what happened to them..Im not declaring this as fact, and people are well within their rights to enjoy the hell out of current Pestilence

          ..if people like the band, Im glad they can find something in there that I cant

  3. Higher criticism should involve getting really high.

  4. I prefer Kataklysm.

  5. Pestilence are an interesting band, and a good choice for this article series due to their varied discography.

    While I enjoy Consvming Impvlse the most out of Pestilence’s catalogue, I can appreciate Spheres and Testimony for what they are, some quality tracks in there but they don’t hit me the way Consvming does.

    Of their later stuff, Resurrection Macabre was pretty solid. A bit repetitive, but I liked the album on the whole. Doctrine was not as satisfying a listen, it leant more towards the Testimony/Spheres style of Pestilence that I dont enjoy as much as their more thrashy death style.

    I’m interested to see which direction they go with Obsideo. I have a feeling it could be more tech death, with Dave Haley on drums – plus they did have ex-Necrophagist on the bass (although I believe this is no longer). I prefer Pestlence without the 8 strings though.

  6. Consuming Impuse is a Top 5 album, at the absolute worst a Top 10. 99th is pretty laughable considering all the crap in that list

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