Returning to the scene after a fifteen year absence in 2009 with a brand new studio album, 'Resurrection Macabre', innovative deathsters Pestilence are back once again with another full-length studio offering, 'Doctrine'. However, much has changed since their original reformation a couple of years back. Gone is American bass virtuoso Tony Choy who has been replaced by Jeroen Paul Thesseling (he had a two year stint in the band during the early nineties). Guitarist Patrick Uterwijk, originally with Pestilence for a six year period, only rejoined the band post-recording of 'Resurrection Macabre' but remains in the lineup here for 'Doctrine'. And also departed is Darkane sticksman Peter Wildoer (who recently auditioned for the job of drummer in Dream Theater); he's been replaced by Yuma van Eekelen from The New Dominion (a band who supported Pestilence on their 2009 comeback tour). Now solely Dutch in constitution and with more personnel involved from the band's heyday, it would be fair to say 'Doctrine' is more of a pure 'Pestilence' album than 'Resurrection Macabre' or, at least, that's what the expectation would be. While the songs that comprise 'Doctrine' display a degree of progression from those on 'Resurrection Macabre', dare I say the 2009 album is notably superior in terms of both songwriting and execution. However, Patrick Mameli remains the main driving force behind the band, responsible for composing all music (apart from 'Doctrine' which Uterwijk co-wrote), and all lyrics, so the core Pestilence sound remains present albeit perhaps lacking enough variety to sustain interest on repeated listens. Further, the songs are generally not as memorable as on 'Resurrection Macabre' with only fleeting moments that genuinely grab your attention. For example, take the quasi-jazz bass interludes midway through 'Deception' - absolutely fantastic but then the track descends into generic riffing rather than develop the idea in any kind of exciting way. Mameli's vocal style does start to become a little monotonous too; always tinged with a hint of despair, it occasionally borders on the ridiculous. For example, after the satanic sermon on 'The Predication' intro piece, first track good and proper, 'Amgod', commences with some effective riffage but Mameli abates it's efficacy twenty or so seconds in by sounding like he's simultaneously screaming and vomiting. Not good. On the positive side, Thesseling has been allowed more space for his bass parts than Choy which, in retrospect, is very surprising considering Choy's musical pedigree and technical abilities. So at least the bass adds a little extra interest to the listening experience. Mameli and Uterwijk also use their eight string guitars to good effect, even if the riffing isn't always that astounding. Overall, 'Doctrine' isn't an inherently bad record by any means, despite my criticisms, it's just that I expected so much more. And I'm sure Pestilence purists will shoot me down for saying this but, damn, I preferred the Mameli/Choy/Wildoer collaboration a whole lot more.
Review by Mark Holmes
25th April 2011
1) The Predication (Intro)
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"...the songs are generally not as memorable as on 'Resurrection Macabre' with only fleeting moments that genuinely grab your attention."