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Pestilence: Doctrine

Pioneering technical death metallers Pestilence returned from the dead with their successful 2009 reunion album Resurrection Macabre, and when word that the band was going to quickly follow that up with another new CD, expectations were once again high from the fans and critics alike. So, here we have Doctrine, another platter of quality death metal from this Dutch act, though there seems to be some major differences from Resurrection Macabre that I'll get into momentarily.

Whereas their last CD saw Pestilence pulling back a bit on the technicality aspect, here on Doctrine the mixing of death metal with prog & jazz fusion that we heard on their earlier material has returned in full force. That, for many, will be reason to celebrate. Look for plenty of stop/start arrangements, wicked lead guitar work, complex riffery, intricate drum patterns, and gymnastic bass lines. Tunes like "Salvation", "Dissolve", and the title track offer a wide assortment of musical fireworks that will please lovers of more technical fare, while "Absolution" and "Sinister" just pummel the listener with death metal ferocity. Jeroen Paul Thesseling's (Obscura) bass work is simply mind-blowing throughout, and the guitars of Patrick Mameli and Patrick Uterwijk are solid as always.

Sounds great right? Well, the one major problem here is that Mameli has totally changed his vocal style on Doctrine. Gone are the monstrous death growls from the past, and in their place Mameli has adopted this annoying, tortured scream that basically hinders the entire album. It's as if Obituary's John Tardy and the late Death mastermind Chuck Schuldiner were both strapped together and had their balls in a vice...not pretty. It's a real shame as the material here is quite good, but Mameli's vocals are not. When you have solid material like "Divinity" and "Deception" being ruined by cringe inducing vocals, the results are very disappointing.

Musically, there's a lot to love here on Doctrine, especially if you dig crushing 8-string guitar riffs, complex time signatures, blazing lead guitar & bass solos, and relentless rhythms. I'm just not sold on the new vocal style, but perhaps over time they will wear on me.

Track Listing
01. The Predication
02. Amgod
03. Doctrine
04. Salvation
05. Dissolve
06. Absolution
07. Sinister
08. Divinity
09. Deception
10. Malignant
11. Confusion

Added: July 31st 2011
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band MySpace Page
Hits: 2866
Language: english

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Pestilence: Doctrine
Posted by Jeff B, SoT Staff Writer on 2011-07-31 22:30:36
My Score:

The reformation of legendary Dutch death metal act Pestilence in 2008 was a bit controversial, to say the least. After going out with a "bang!" in the form of 1993's Spheres, the band's two full-length albums since the reformation have been met with generally mixed reception from fans and critics alike. Although 2011's Doctrine seems to be getting panned on most online sources, I'll put myself in the increasingly small minority that considers this to be a damn good effort that's among the year's better technical death metal albums. Doctrine is not flawless, and there are a few noticeable issues that keep this from reaching the heights of Pestilence's classic offerings, but this is still an exceptionally solid album that all fans of the band should cherish for years to come.

Anyone familiar with Pestilence's jazzy and progressive spin on technical death metal should instantly recognize Doctrine as the band's work. Doctrine does have a sleek, modern edge, but at its core this album is technical death metal in the vein of Death or Atheist with an additional jazzy edge. The fretless 7-string bass playing from Jeroen Paul Thesseling especially adds a jazzy touch that reminds me a lot of the bass playing on the legendary Spheres album. The rest of the musicians are also terrific, with Yuma Van Eekelen's fantastic drumming also standing out as something from a technically gifted machine. I've heard plenty of complaints about Patrick Mameli's vocal delivery, which (admittedly) is quite an acquired taste, but I absolutely adore his tortured growling style here. I'd say it's among his finest performances yet - the man simply sounds insane on this album, and quite original as well... I can't say I've heard very many death metal vocalists who sound anywhere near Mameli's unconventional sound on Doctrine! The production is a bit flat and generic in my opinion, but it still is unquestionably of high quality. I just can't say I'm a big fan of the mix, especially the super-crunchy guitar tones. Again, it's an acquired taste, and this one I haven't yet been able to acquire.

Despite the nearly universal slandering I've heard about Doctrine, it's turned out to be quite a pleasant surprise for me, and an album I'd easily recommend to those who enjoy jazz-tinged technical death metal. Pestilence may not have outdone their classic albums from the first half of the 90's, but that's certainly a large task and a nearly-unreasonable expectation. What they've managed to create here is yet another great addition into their catalog in the vein of Spheres - and that's certainly fine by me! Technical death metal fans are advised to get this one, assuming they've already heard a decent chunk of Pestilence's backcatalog. 3.5 stars are fair here.

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