Pestilence - Consuming Impulse (1989)
The Netherlands have a very bizarre and varied sampling of metal bands. Pestilence are a band that played conventional thrash metal up until the death metal revolution hit Europe, and everyone started growling. Consuming Impulse is the Dutch band's second album, coming after 1988's more thrash-oriented Malleus Maleficarum. Though the albums are only a year apart, the difference in sound is remarkable. Consuming Impulse is definitely a death metal album, Martin Van Drunen's vocals are more gravel-laden, the riffs are more-often atonal or chromatic in nature, the topics are more brutal, and the production is incredibly grating. This is an album that is clearly influenced by Death's second album, Leprosy, both in production and song craft. And let's face it, there's no beating that cover - something even myself, with no discernible artistic ability, attempted to draw on several occasions.
Pestilence can write a mean hook. The Process of Suffocation, Suspended Animation, and personal favorite, Out of Body, all have $1000 riffs featured as the songs' main anchor. In fact, Pestilence is a very riff-driven band, staying rather true to their thrash metal roots. There's plenty of speed to be had here - more songs clicking away with pogo-beat drums and intricate guitar lines. Dehydrated is a fierce album opener which immediately announces the intent - destroy your ears. This is a classic, OSDM release and belongs in any discussion involving the early development of the genre. There is an intriguing blend of ugliness with technical know-how and a dash of atmosphere through this album.
The band would eventually evolve into a progressive metal outfit, and these tendencies are detectable even here, on their sophomore effort. Keyboard lines find their way into actual songs rather than the genre-cliche intros, and rhythms get a bit asymmetrical and challenging at points. Pestilence are clearly a musically ambitious act, demonstrated most clearly on out-of-place shred-a-thon, Proliferous Souls.
Pestilence would go on to produce one more death metal album before becoming too progressive and experimental to be considered genre-specific. Purists tend to cite Consuming Impulse as the high watermark in their career, and I tend to agree. There's just too many golden riffs to overlook this sucker, even if the treble-heavy production may make your ears throb a bit. That's okay, isn't that what 80's metal was all about? Consuming Impulse gets 4 out of 5 Skullies.