By Thor

After listening to “Obsideo”—the new album from Dutch death metal forebearers Pestilence—the fact that this band formed around the time Chernobyl melted down, the space shuttle blew up, and Mike Tyson first started putting fools to sleep for the belt is nothing short of amazing, but fitting nonetheless.

“Obsideo” is old school without sounding old and it’s modern without sounding lifeless.  Ironic, that, for a death metal band as storied as Pestilence is.  The album mixes blast beats and tremolo assaults with crushingly heavy grooves courtesy of what sound like 8-string guitars.  Vocally, Patrick Mameli borrows liberally from the Book of Tardy, specifically John Tardy of fellow death-metal-1.0 maniacs, Obituary.  The riffs are technical without ever becoming alienatingly ambitious, churning out hook after hook of vile disgust.  And the album is comprised of actual discernible songs—a foreign concept in a lot of modern death metal.

I’ve always admired Pestilence, but “Obsideo” absolutely shattered my expectations and immediately became a member of my best-albums-of-the-year shortlist.  It’s extreme metal executed with just enough restraint to remain musical.  And please don’t conflate that to mean it’s not a violent, mammoth beast of an album.  It’s easily one of the heaviest death metal albums I’ve heard in years— monster riffs all tuned to the brown note, the weight of which is broken up with passages of bone-grinding speed and brilliantly played guitar solos.

It’s yin. It’s yang.  It’s fantastic sounding.  And most importantly, it’s another rare example of an album that reminds me why I love this kind of music.  Fans of HEAVY music? This one’s an ogre.