"Obsideo" is the third album since Pestilence returned to the music scene after a long absence. Patrick Mameli and Co. came back with 2009's "Resurrection Macabre", a crushing death metal assault that matched the intensity from the days of "Testimony of the Ancients", although neglected the band's more experimental aspects. Then, in 2011, Pestilence delivered "Doctrine", which went a completely different direction, re-establishing the weird tech death solos and bass lines, highlighted by the return of the master, J.P. Thesseling, on bass. But, not long after the release of "Doctrine", Thesseling left, and I worried that losing a prized, unique feature of the band might dampen my appreciation of their next album. Mameli and longtime guitar partner Patrick Uterwijk always deliver the goods, but I was highly bummed after I heard about the departure of Thesseling. Pestilence seemed to be on a decent roll after "Doctrine", so I really hoped it wouldn't interfere with the momentum the band has built since their comeback.
It's 2½ years later, and now we have "Obsideo". This album does a nice job of combining the approaches of the two previous albums into a more realized, consistent batch of songs that offer everything from brutal death metal, spacey tech solos, bizarre guitar synth textures, and bouncy grooves ala "Spheres". My favorite tracks so far are "Transition" and "Laniatus", which would be good reference points for how the overall album sounds, as well as "Displaced". On "Doctrine", some complained about Mameli's odd, higher pitched, frequently cracking vocal style. On "Obsideo", he's reined it back in, and sounds nearly as brutal as on "Resurrection Macabre", although not quite as deep. The new bassist definitely does not have the same presence as J.P., but he contributes a fine performance, with a few nice flourishes here and there. The new drummer can play, peppering the album with tons of double bass, speedy fills, and precision blast beats. I don't hear any filler at all here, just ten dynamic songs in the 3½ minute range that capture those distinctive tones unique to Pestilence. It's a great addition to their discography.