Pestilence – Doctrine

Posted on July 13, 2011




Yesterday afternoon at work, I listened to CarcassNecroticism – Descanting the Insalubrious. It’s not uncommon for me to jam some old school death metal to break the monotony of the sundry paper pushing and office ephemera that comprises the majority of my day job. Call it my 5-hour Energy, without the questionable ingredients or crackhead after effects. The killer riffage, psychotic solos and sloppy but always on point drumming of the glory days of DM circa ‘87-‘96 blasting between my Sony cans rips that 2:30 feeling a new one and crams it full of bitchin’ tunes from simpler times. Hey, everybody needs something to get through the day.

It was probably for the better, then, that Pestilence’s second album after a 2008 reunion wasn’t on my playlist, because Doctrine would have left me unconscious and drooling on my keyboard. Now, don’t get me wrong, Consuming Impulse and Testimony of the Ancients are Hall of Fame material, certified classics of the genre. Mastermind Patrick Mameli placed 16th on Decibel’s “20 Best Death Metal Guitarists” list for a reason. Even as he took the band into uncharted and controversial territory with Spheres, the man did so with the singular focus of a true visionary, but in the years following Pestilence’s demise in ‘93, rumors began to surface of his “new influences.” When the downright atrocious C-187 emerged and was subsequently snubbed by everyone who didn’t think Pantera were the end-all of metal, Mameli decided to get (some of) the guys back together and entered the fracas of the late-aughts’ classic DM reunion kick. His groove metal tendencies seemed primarily squashed on 2009’s Resurrection Macabre, but whatever therapy he was undergoing proved ineffective. Thus the Meshuggah-lite of Doctrine’s “Sinister” and “Dissolve,” among others.

What a damned shame, too. Mameli and his bandmates haven’t lost their skill; it’s just buried under boring-as-fuck chugga chuggas and plain awful vocals. Stone cold legend Jeroen Paul Thesseling does his rubber bandy bass thing here, complementing “Malignant”’s decent riff in audible fashion (we can’t ask much more in this age of outmixing the bottom end). But then our mainman tries to get all widdly woodly on us with a trippy alien solo and the wheels of this already rickety wagon fall off. First track proper “Amgod” doesn’t fare much better, despite rookie drummer Yuma Van Eekelen’s attempts to inject some life into the proceedings with his speedy fills. By the time we hit “Divinity,” with its bouncy, downtuned boneheadedness, it’s apparent just how little these guys brought to the table before tracking this thing. And then you realize there is an “evil” pope adorning the cover, in some vague attempt at an oh-so-original anti-religion statement. Which really should tell you all you need to know without needing to hit play. Some kids will check out Doctrine because of Thesseling’s brief stint in German technicians Obscura, who Pestilence could and should be better than, considering some of the members’ founding role in the style. Instead, these resurrected Dutch death dealers are better off six feet under

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