Pestilence - Doctrine
Mascot Records
Technical Death Metal
11 songs (39:22)
Release year: 2011
Pestilence, Mascot Records
Reviewed by Goat
Major event

After the disappointment that was 2009’s Resurrection Macabre, Pestilence fans can feel good about themselves and their favourite Dutch Death Metal band again, as I’m pleased to report that Doctrine is a real step forward. Although I like Resurrection... slightly more now than I did at the time, all of my criticisms of it hold true – too repetitive, too dull, too modern, too much. Doctrine moves away from that, but it moves forward rather than back into the past. We’d all like to see Pestilence make another gutripping razor ride like Consuming Impulse, but it just isn’t going to happen. Instead, Doctrine is an improvement on the Resurrection Macabre formula, cutting down on the repetition and adding greater technicality, yet is still very modern. In some ways, Pestilence 2011 is closer to Meshuggah than Pestilence 1991 – Mameli has switched to eight-string guitars, giving the band a big aggressive groove that sounds fantastic...

...wait, come back! It’s honestly not as terrible as it sounds, ye olde Death Metal crew. Mameli himself has altered his growl to a higher-pitched screech that is straight from the early 90s and sometimes has the honour of sounding like Van Drunen at his most deranged. Throughout there’s no lack of awesome Death Metal silliness, opener The Predication being a monk chanting (performed by Dark Fortress’ Victor Bullok apparently, who also recorded and mixed the album) that gradually grows more psychotic until he’s growling what sounds like a bona fide Satanic hymn. From then, first track proper Amgod is an explosion of riffs, the speedy double-bass from drummer Yuma van Eekelen sets the pace wonderfully and providing a compellingly complex backing to Mameli and Patrick Uterwijk’s guitar work. You can tell Pestilence have stepped it up a gear from the mid-track instrumental section alone, clearly audible bass twangs and melodic soloing giving way to old-school atmospheric darkness before bursting back into catchiness. The album as a whole has a ‘religion is eeeevil!’ theme that will only grate if you let it, as the focus is on the music by far.

Like with Testimony Of The Ancients, some tracks have a short interlude between them, but here they’re built into the songs and are much shorter than on that album. You really won’t notice the first listen or so, obsessed as you are with headbanging to the extraordinarily catchy likes of the title track, which mixes Gojira-esque groove with riff worship a la Decapitated. It’s that marriage of ceaseless catchiness and mind-bending technicality that really lets you know Pestilence have outdone themselves. The band seem unable not to experiment, an interesting extra kick drum pattern emerging beneath the morass and seizing your attention before the band slide sickeningly into a solo. There may be Death Metal silliness aplenty, but don’t be fooled – in no way, shape or form is this a silly album.

Salvation opens like a modern Morbid Angel and soon is beating out a deranged bounce, a distorted lead guitar taking you back to Spheres for a brief moment of psychedelic wonder, repeated at the start of Dissolve which soon is pounding out an epic march, slow and dignified in a very wrong way as those bass rumbles come into their own beneath the multiple layers of guitars. Absolution wrongfoots you by starting like a classic Asphyx number, droning guitars and deranged frontman, before moving into jazzy territory with mindbogglingly technical beatdowns and melancholic solos that could almost have been played on a saxophone. Sinister, on the other hand, takes a single infectious riff and pulverises you with it, repeating it in slightly different ways and creating a pattern akin to Meshuggah’s Catch Thirtythree gone catchy. Following track Divinity could actually be a lost track from Nothing at first, before taking a Thrashier path, whilst Malignant and Confusion focus on the riffage and tear along without mercy. Without a doubt, you won’t hear riffs this catchy played with such excellent musicianship from many other bands.

If I had to sum this album up, it would be as a startling mixture of Testimony... , Spheres, and Resurrection... taking strengths from each and for the most part avoiding weaknesses. However, there remains something rather strangely impressive about Doctrine, something that keeps you listening repeatedly. It’s certainly a tribute to the band’s songwriting skills that they can meld hooks and complexity this well, and whilst there are a couple of slightly clunky moments (I can see eyes rolling at some of the grooviest parts) all in all this is an album that fans of the band should love. Without a doubt, those interested in modern or just plain interesting Death Metal should enjoy Doctrine a lot – despite the groove, there is absolutely no Deathcore to be found, and that’s quite a statement considering Mameli’s responsible for C-187! The godfathers of Tech-Death have made quite an album here, a doctrine that erases all memory of Resurrection Macabre and proves its makers to be more than relevant.

Killing Songs :
Amgod, Doctrine, Salvation, Absolution, Sinister, Deception, Malignant
Goat quoted 86 / 100
Other albums by Pestilence that we have reviewed:
Pestilence - Obsideo reviewed by Goat and quoted 83 / 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
Pestilence - Testimony Of The Ancients reviewed by Jack and quoted CLASSIC
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