Old school is the next big thing in metal it seems and more so in Sweden than anywhere else on the planet. By borrowing sounds from 60s psychedelic rock, 70s Doom and 80s New Wave of British Heavy Metal, bands like Ghost and Graveyard fast became the frontrunners in this Revival taking the world by storm and creating a much appreciated break from over-produced, auto-tuned and overly-triggered albums. Five years in the making, Pest’s new opus “The Crowning Horror” sees the band depart from a true Black Metal production towards a more traditional heavy metal sound in the vein of Venom, Merciful Fate and Celtic Frost – thus positioning Pest amidst their Swedish brethren in this new Traditional Heavy Metal Revival.
From the dark carnivalesque opening track, it is obvious that the album yearns to be played on a vinyl with its scratchy, analog and organic production. Immediately setting up the mood, “A Face Obscured by Death” goes straight into a full-on thrash beat before expanding into a groovier, slower riff that highlights the vocal work. Even judging only by this song, it is easy to acknowledge Pest’s departure from their true black metal sound still present in their previous endeavor “Rest in Morbid Darkness”. The tempo is slower, the riff work more defined, the bass more present, the drumming is more traditional and the reverb on the vocals is kept to a minimum. One thing that hasn’t changed though is the attitude: Necro still spits his venom through misanthropic lyrics about death, hate and evil.
Most of the songs are short and sweet and, more importantly, varied. Each song stands out, making the album flow incredibly well between fast, slow, groovy and melodic songs. For example, “Volcanic Eyes” and its fast tempo, melodic-driven riff and abrupt end, is effortlessly followed by “Devil’s Mark”, a slower bluesy bass-driven song with a more progressive overture, rock and roll drums and New Wave overtones.
One song that stands-out is the epic seven minute “Thirteen Chimes” that builds on mood rather than melody. Reminiscent of old doom metal in parts, the voice is more preaching, uncharacteristic of the album and particular to this track because of its heavy use of echo and saturation. There is a lack of solos, the leads are kept to a minimum and there is no excess of riffs – highlighting therefore the vocals and the lyrics.
Even though “The Crowning Horror” is heavily rooted in old school metal, the album is not simply imitating various influences. Indeed, mixing complex song structures with catchy riffs, Pest’s new album is an amalgamation of everything that is great with the old school, fueled by a modern raw attitude. The songwriting is not congested and complex yet catchy without being cheap. The songs are varied and flow with ease in a very organic fashion. Indeed, this organic approach towards the creation and production of this album is its biggest strength and quite frankly, a breath of fresh air. 4/5 Dragons
Pest Online – www.pest.se
– Review by Eddy Levitsky of the band Hollow