Black Pestilence – Hail the Flesh (Self-released)
Review by Milos Sebalj
All the way from frost bitten and virus ridden Canada, boys who wore masks before it was cool (or compulsory)! Though I believe the guitar player got the message wrong. You should wear it across your nose and mouth. The rest of your face is quite safe as far as I understood.
Enough with the virus jokes! Focus shift to the 6th full length record by the black metal punks from Calgary.
“Hail the Flesh” comes as a logical continuation of its predecessor, as far as the genre identification or the sound in general. Black Pestilence keep along the path of satanic punk. A fine overlap of elements characteristic for black metal of the second wave and a more melodic punk rock. Impaled Nazarene comes as a natural point of reference here, though the Canadian trio doesn’t surge into the extremes quite as much. Their tracks are made of components, though still pretty straight-forward, a bit better varied. Still, the comparison stands when it comes to the catchiness of songs and choruses easy to remember and shout out into their faces while in the front row. The slight ‘upgrade’ from “Urban Hell Rhythmics” can be felt through fragmental death metal touches here and there. Black Pestilence’s sound became deeper on the mentioned album, thus announcing what can be found here. These guys were never shy of showing their industrial side which goes along perfectly hand in hand with displays of punk ferocity. This side of the band is also placed in the background, making for the atmospheric approach, often neglected in the genre. Speaking of the atmosphere, the spawn of the “Devil of My Life” off the previous record, “Ephemeral” shows what Black Pestilence is capable of in the sense of atmosphere. Long, slow and melodic track grinds the album to a slow-motion finish, giving it as brutal as possible end. Incidentally, it is the only track not written by the only remaining founder of the band, bassist and vocalist Valax.
As an essential part of punk aesthetics, the Canadians adopted the D. I. Y. attitude a long time ago, so their work is outsourced only when necessary. So, I guess none of the boys is a talented painter, as the cover was done by Juha Vuorma, responsible for depicting albums by Denial of God, Edge of Sanity and many other more or less known bands. The picture itself marks the return of the ‘skeleton punk’ from their 2016 EP. A mascot in the making, one might assume. Flawless production work was also credited outside the band to Sacha Laskow. He is responsible for the fact that everything on this record is clearly heard, especially the essential bass guitar which is highly important in the line-up with just one guitar. Of course, none of the filth the genre is known for is brushed off. “Hail the Flesh” retains its XXI century strength and aggression though it stands as a monument to ancient musical directions.
Merging extreme metal and punk has long been invented, tried and tested. There’s not much room to wiggle about the genre, so the original approach is forgotten as a concept. However, those who delve within mostly know what is expected of them. And most of them deliver time and again. Black Pestilence took their time to get to the sound that characterizes them nowadays. Still, there is no denying they are one of the more successful representatives of the genre. It’s high time the rest of the world comes to the same conclusion.