Pestilence - Exitivm
Agonia Records
Death Metal
12 songs (38:58)
Release year: 2021
Pestilence, Agonia Records
Reviewed by Goat

The Pestilence reunion (or revnion) of 2008 has given us (or vs) four (or fovr) albums (albvms) of varying qualities (qvalities) but (bvt) you (yov - sorry, will stop now) can see where the line of evolution has taken us, the highlight being 2018's Hadeon. Exitivm sees Patrick Mameli and his merry band of hired hands (now including Joost van der Graaf, Rutger vab Noordenburg, and Michael van der Plicht on bass, guitars, and drums respectively) shifting onwards again, taking spelling lessons from Latin as they strive towards perhaps the closest reproduction of the Spheres sound in a while. It's not immediately obvious whether Exitivm is a good album thanks to a production (again courtesy of Mameli) which errs on the modern side especially on the drums and a songwriting goal that starts to move away from the catchier individual moments of Hadeon in favour of a generally galloping, riff-led style that doesn't always work.

This, sadly, is entirely down to certain decisions of Mameli's, not least that to hand over a considerable chunk of your 39 minute running time to keyboard intros and interludes. The first and worst of these is separated into its own piece, and In Omnibvs is nearly three minutes long and doesn't so much build anticipation as herald boredom in its place at the start of the album, particularly when you finally hear first track proper Morbvs Propagationem and its aggressive death metal - a far better and more vigorous introduction to Pestilence's technical death battering. Each and every track has its own keyboard intro a la Testimony of the Ancients, however brief, but they doesn't work nearly as well here, instead making you wish the band would channel their death metal assault into an even more streamlined album.

This is a shame, because when Pestilence get it right here, they're astonishingly good. Mameli's take on progressive death metal was too advanced for the scene on the ever-underrated Spheres from 1993, and Exitivm makes a solid argument for being a modern update, from sound to CGI artwork. Yet there's nothing as actually infectious and catchy as the writing there, as close as certain songs can be. The melodic riffing on album highlight Dominatvi Svbmissa, for instance, is great and more than carries the track through the death metal chugging that forms the backbone, and although over far too soon at just over three minutes in length (not a single song here is over four minutes long, which seems like a missed opportunity to finally experiment with longer structures, even though Pestilence have never been a long song band) still makes enough of an impact to stand out and doubtless be a live highlight when such things are allowed again.

Mameli has always had a great ear for a riff, and there are numerous examples here of songs being written around a particularly infectious example that is put to use both invigorating and not overstretched - Inficiat and the following title track two late-album examples that are far more enjoyable than you'd have expected. If you like death metal constructed around riffs, you should love this, and indeed should probably rediscover each and every previous album from this underrated Dutch legend. As with previous albums, however, there are still enough flaws to stop Pestilence from achieving past heights.

Killing Songs :
Deificvs, Mortifervm, Dominatvi Svbmissa
Goat quoted 78 / 100
Other albums by Pestilence that we have reviewed:
Pestilence - Hadeon reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
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
To see all 8 reviews click here
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