Sound: Pestilence has been hailed as one of the more experimental Death Metal bands, altering their sound from album to album. This isn't quite the case with their latest effort 'Doctorine'. Despite the praise of remaining consistent in their ability to change, Pestilence has decided this time around to rather go with the sure thing, and that is stick with the style that made their previous effort 'Resurrection Macabre' so successful.
Pestilence has essentially created 'Resurrection Macabre Part II', only this time things have slowed down a bit. Songs like 'Doctorine' crush you with the crunchy palm muted notes, a technique they repeat on this album more than once - and their is nothing wrong with that! One thing that may have fans a bit annoyed however is the lack of speed. Although there are some good tempo changes - not to mention a quite energetic opening, none of them truly give the energy Pestilence used to be so good at delivering. This is in part to blame on the production of the album.
The album has a good budget, there is no doubt about that. However the album seems to have trouble figuring out how to sound stronger. Like is the case of much modern metal albums, the production is overly dry. Perhaps that is a step up from the reverb-soaked Death Metal records of the early 90's, but there is something lost there. The snare never quite sounds like he's hitting it with purpose as I had hoped for. That being said, the kick sounds great, and the guitar/bass tones are perfect. The mix? Not so exciting.
Unfortunately for the dry production of the album and the consistent style of the music (not to mention the lackadaisical guitar solos), the album kind of feels like one big average Death Metal song. Despite the fact that Pestilence has maintained their ability to not sound calculated or predictable, 'Doctorine' won't wow you with creativity. Even some of the riffs end up sounding repetitive no matter how inspired they really are. // 7
Lyrics: The album opening 'The Predication' greets us with the foreign screams of V. Santura (whoever that is) leading into the title track 'Doctorine'. From the moment you hear Patrick's signature vocal style, you will instantly be swept back in to Pestilence land. His style hasn't changed at all, and honestly still sounds like he's delivering vocals from back in 1996 on 'Spheres'. Just as quickly as you'll be excited for his vocals, you may grow just as tired. Patrick has never been a diverse vocalist; a one trick pony. Hey, if it ain't broke don't fix it right? And to Patrick's credit he DOES do some high pitch screams, and even an "air raid siren" power metal-ish yell! His ability to remain consistent (not to mention rolling his tongue in 'Salvation') certainly is admirable, but this may also be tiresome to many people.
As far as lyrics go... well let me just say that Pestilence has been so creative in the past that they are to be forgiven for their 'not so strong points' on any future albums...
...They lyrics are a little embarrassing. They sound good on delivery, and the timing of their delivery is perfect. However, the whole "Christianity sucks and this is why" thing has not only been done to DEATH, but it has never been done very well either. What we have here are the lyrics of an overgrown high schooler (a lot of these lyrics remind me of stuff I wrote in history class when I was 15!)
The CD itself is already covered in the words "In Manipulation We Trust" which should have been a red flag. The songs go by the formula of having one word titles, and basing the lyrics around that word. This usually ends in the song's title being repeated 6 or 7 times throughout the song. It's nothing memorable, and unfortunately completely forgettable. // 6
Overall Impression: Clocking it at just under 40 minutes, the album is short lived (which may or may not be a good thing). Although the title track 'Doctorine' as well as tracks like 'Absolution' and 'Sinister' make for some good listening, they leave no lasting impression. Upon my second listen to the album, I still have yet to go "Oh I remember this part!" more than when he does the Bruce Dickinson scream.
For all the album didn't deliver, the album has made up in it's ability to simply play Death Metal - for better or for worse. Pestilence has obviously chosen a route that many others have taken in recent years, that route being consistency (a word I have used far too many times in this review). This is not a bad thing per say, it's just rather a step back from what we've come to expect from the Netherland brutalizers.
When you listen to this album, kind of say to yourself that it is not Pestilence, and see how you feel about it. If all you can come up with is "Well the vocals sound a bit like Pestilence..." for good things to say about it, then it probably had the effect I was afraid it would have on you - none. If you however find yourself enjoying the boring production or uninspired solos, or even the high school boy lyrics than more power to you!
Personally, I think this is the first album by Pestilence that would be permissible to have never existed... It's not a blight on their career, but it's certainly not a landmark, and most certainly not an impressive album.
Whom this album is for: Fans of straight up Death Metal, die-hard fans of Pestilence, someone who doesn't want to bang their head too fast.
Whom this album is NOT for: Fans of fast death metal, fans of brutal/loud production, someone looking for more experimental Pestilence. // 7