Pouring from every orifice and spraying blood-red into your gasping mouth, like a co-ed receiving their first Tijuana car wash, so delightful are the ear-bursting thuds of the reanimated and no less organ-thirsty spirit of death metal along the west coast of the United States today. The kids today, these rapid and depraved youths carry more rage and capability than ever before as their formative years hack to fucking pieces the ivory tower protected precepts of ‘old school’ death metal and distort every trope into newly riveting style and as enthused variation the world over. Their plague spreads today as if it were 1991 again and it is a never-ending death that persists without the threat of groove metal ever finding meaningful place in underground music ever again. This golden era today would see righteous fellows shitting in the mouths of goth metal and punching wildly at the slightest threat of death n’ roll’s horrible return. Los Angeles, California has many sects of beast-like men who’ve focused intently upon classic death metal sounds and style for the last decade that’d now surface with meaningful variation and worthy riffcraft. Transcendence, Draghkar, and Kommand (among many others) each begin to find serious footing as they progress but Pestilent Death have been putting serious throat-punchers to tape pretty consistently since forming their most serious line-up around 2015. ‘Chapters of Depravity’ is the second full-length from the young band that shows an even deeper hunger for brutality, gore, and horror than before.
‘Eulogies of Putrefaction’ (2016) was a strong debut that completely blindsided me with “Premonitions of Misery”, I mean I knew they had a former Insineratehymn bassist on hand but it was a damned explosion of a death/doom metal song that I’d not expected coming off of the ‘Cemeterial Befoulment’ (2015) demo. Though that song blew my mind their style was otherwise sonically rooted in an era of death metal that I’d consider ‘Butchered at Birth’ brutal but with an early Vomitory (see: ‘Raped in Their Own Blood’) level of riffcraft. I mean the damn thing ended with a classic Mortician song so, you more or less get the idea… They’re not art-rockers or post-metal kids putting a spin on modern death metal, they’re just out to kill fucking everything a la today’s hardest. To lump Pestilent Death in with Scorched and Torture Rack, bands that happily cross the line into more brutal territory for effect but still maintain a pre-’95 level of sanity in terms of speed, is definitely meant as a compliment; I’d place them in that niche after spending a considerable amount of time with ‘Chapters of Depravity’. The ‘Upheaval of the Undead’ (2018) EP hinted at this slight movement towards what I’d consider a ‘Acts of the Unspeakable’ era Autopsy type of sound where aspects of doom metal and nascent brutal death seeped deeper into the repertoire of many classic bands. Nothing about this dynamic, or this release for that matter, is revolutionary but it is in the greatest tradition.
That balance of meat-headed aggression and obtuse thump with intermittent flings into existential dread is almost too blended compared to the first full-length. Though I think some of the unpredictability is lost in the experience the gains are significant otherwise with their most professional studio recording to date and twice the death/doom lurches rather than just one big song in the middle. “Chamber of Wretched Souls” and “Upheaval of the Undead” both heavily focus on those death/doom moments and more or less offer bookends for the brutality within though a couple of tracks do slow down for effect (see: “Perverse Blood Offering”). If it seems like I’m focusing on the pace and stylistic ideas too intently it is admittedly because the riffs aren’t knocking me out of my seat. That isn’t to say they aren’t great but I’m a frayed cord in terms of having heard it all before. There are plenty of memorable parts, though, and this helped to maintain my interest. “Pulsating Entrails” fires out of the gate like an early Master track and soon develops an almost brutal/deathgrind vocal cadence. “Antropophagy” is simply an exemplar US death metal song circa the early 90’s complete with its bassline breakdown towards the end. It’ll all be kinda meat-and-potatoes, an experience not unlike a la early Cannibal Corpse (see: Gutted, or Banished) record but hey, I wouldn’t personally take issue with those (relatively) high standards. My only complaint is that the bass drum hits are tuned far too ‘blunt’ for my taste though it only becomes an issue with extended blasts and that’d rarely last more than a minute.
The horror themed samples, the blunted sound, and the brutal puke of their execution leave Pestilent Death in the realm of high quality but generally nondescript ‘classic’ styled death metal. Beyond their solid handle upon slower-paced riffing I wasn’t blown away by any one particular aspect or moment on ‘Chapters of Depravity’. If you share the virtuous trait of appreciating the act of death metal as much as the art of ‘refining’ it there’ll be some great brutal energy, some depraved rotten shit, and plenty of ‘in the pocket’ skull-shaking death mania therein. Moderately high recommendation, for its above average grasp of early 90’s brutality and otherwise passable traits. For preview I’d recommend “Perverse Blood Offering” and “Torturous Incantations” to see the bigger picture of their style and to get a hint of the slower death/doom moments within.
Strung up by the heels. 3.5/5.0
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