Album Title: The Pestilence
Label: Agonia Records
Date of Release: 1 April 2022
I’m going to incur the wrath of Centinex mastermind, Martin Schulman with the title of this review, because he has been at pains to refer to ‘The Pestilence’ as an ‘MLP’ rather than an ‘EP’. His reasoning is actually sound, because shorter form records were always known as mini-LPs, with the use of EPs or ‘extended play’ releases coming much later. This slight diversion might seem pointless, but it certainly isn’t, because it acts as a gateway into the mind of Schulman at the present time, and provides an insight into the music on this brand-new four-track release (five, if you buy the CD and avail yourself of the bonus track).
Bridging the gap between their last full-length, ‘Death In Pieces’ and their next, ‘The Pestilence’ is very much an exercise in bringing back the old-school way of doing things, from the compositions themselves, to the way in which they have been recorded and presented to the target audience. Listening to this offering, it is very much like taking a step back in time, but that’s no bad thing. The production is dirty and grimy, but it fits the music perfectly. It is also a vibrant, organic affair within which you can still hear all of the instruments with sufficient clarity to ensure that the music makes the necessary impact across what is, in reality, a brief blast of old-school death metal barbarity. I’m pretty sure that ‘The Pestilence’ was recorded in more of a live studio manner, and you can hear that within the music.
On to the tracks themselves and it’s here that the biggest impact is made. It’s nothing new, it’s nothing particularly surprising. But what it is, is Centinex delivering the kind of music for which they’ve been known throughout their career. And that’s no mean feat when you consider the lengthy hiatus of the band and that the current line-up has only been in place since 2020, releasing only ‘Death In Pieces’ prior to this effort.
‘In Pestilence’ kicks off with the appropriately titled ‘Armageddon’, ushered into existence by the sound of heavy gunfire before a scorching and heavy riff from Jorgen Kristensen takes over. Accented by bruising drumming from Florian Rehn, it’s a gnarly opening, but impressively aggressive and uncompromising. Henka Andersson’s deep guttural growls sound particularly full of old-school vitriol atop a composition that fuses death metal and thrash together expertly, creating a powerful onslaught. At points, the dirty rumbling bass of Martin Shulman becomes even more prominent, sounding wonderfully depraved as it gurgles menacingly at the bottom end. The sound of days gone by has never sounded so relevant and vital in today’s world.
‘Evil Is Evil’ takes over, but there’s no let-up in the sonic assault. With more of a thrash feel to it, the pace is equally as swift as the opener, even more so in places possibly. The riffs are generally fast-paced, almost verging on black metal territory occasionally, whilst the rhythm section gallops along like a scolded rat, allowing Andersson to gurn over the top of a tumultuous soundscape that eventually opens up to offer something a little more groovy.
My favourite track is, without doubt, ‘Tremble In Fear’. The quick tempo is abandoned in favour of a lumbering, lurching monstrous groove. The bass of Shulman sounds brilliant in the opening section, whilst the blend of slow, chugging riffing, and faster drumming is always a winner for me. This is the kind of song that’s headbanger’s dream, so fat, so chunky, and so groovy, allowing those neck muscles to stretch. As a result, it’s a surprisingly catchy and memorable composition too, raising a sinister grin on my face in the process. Love it!
The final track, CD version aside, is ‘Torture’ which well and truly reverts to type as it’s another blistering death/thrash attack where bass and drums skip along at a fair lick, upon which the guitar riffs can unleash their dark magic.
There’s not a lot more to say at this point, other than look no further than Centinex and ‘The Pestilence’ is your wanting some extreme metal nostalgia, but with a relevant modern edge to it. As I said before, it’s not a million miles away from a sound you’ve heard many times before. But there’s a reason that this music still has a place in the heavy metal underground, and that’s because it’s great. Dirty, depraved, and a lot of fun, be sure to check out this latest release from the hugely consistent and evergreen Centinex.
The Score of Much Metal: 85%
Check out my other 2022 reviews here:
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