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The 5 Essential PESTILENCE Albums

These Dutch denizens of all things deathy should need no introduction and with 9 studio albums over an incredible 37 year career to choose from, we had a hard time whittling ’em down to, what we believe to be, Pestilence‘s 5 essential albums….

5. Exitivm (2021)

Despite wholesale changes to Pestilence‘s line-up, album number 9 still found Pestilence sounding as alien as ever. Discordant and disruptive, Exitivm was resolutely a modern death metal record but one with just enough nods to the past to keep OSDM fans enraptured throughout.

Happily, the forward-thinking, sci-fi feel of Pestilence‘s classic albums remained intact and it was this balance of nostalgia with a modern sheen that made Exitivm so damn appealing. The additional use of orchestration and symphonic elements added layers to Pestilence‘s already crowded – yet clearly defined – sound; providing a haunting backdrop to razor-sharp, discordant riffs that Pestilence are renowned for. 

Exitivm was primarily for fans of Pestilence‘s more abstract moments and if you adored Spheres and worshipped Testimony Of The Ancients (who doesn’t?) then Exitivm came highly recommended.


4. Spheres (1993)

Pestilence – Spheres (CD) - Discogs

From thrash metal (Malleus Maleficarum) to death metal (Consuming Impulse) to progressive death metal (Testimony Of The Ancients)…. to Spheres; an album so eclectic it fits all previous descriptions and throws some jazz-fusion into the mix to create a spacey, avant-garde, progessive metal masterpiece.

Pestilence‘s 4th album may have split fans straight down the middle back in 1993 but there’s no escaping its timeless appeal today.

Easing fans gently into ever challenging terrain, Spheres is cannily front-loaded with death metal indebted tracks designed to appeal to the fanbase before unleashing the triumvirate of “Personal Energy”, “Voices From Within” and “Spheres”; songs that barely register as death metal and thrilling examples of a band tapping into otherworldly influences.


3. Malleus Maleficarum (1988)

Pestilence – Malleus Maleficarum (1988, Vinyl) - Discogs

Before they became a progressive death metal force to be reckoned with, Pestilence kicked thrash firmly in the a-hole with their debut album, Malleus Maleficarum!

A vicious onslaught of repulsive death-thrash, Pestilence were already on the path to hellish enlightenment when they recorded this astonishingly abrasive beast of a debut album.

Death metal classic Consuming Impulse may have been a year away but Pestilence were already barrelling their way in the right direction, keeping one foot in thrash metal’s comfortable and recognisable living quarters while the other made a bolt for the exit, heading into the unknown darkness of death metal’s fertile beginnings.

One of the crowning achievements of death-thrash and no mistake!


2. Testimony Of The Ancients (1991)

Pestilence – Testimony Of The Ancients (1991, CD) - Discogs

Over the years, Pestilence may have dallied with thrash (1989’s Malleus Maleficarum) and cavorted with progressive jazz-fusion (1993’s Spheres) but their spiritual home has always been death metal and when they followed up their masterpiece, Consuming Impulse, with one of the most forward-thinking albums of the period in Testimony Of The AncientsPestilence‘s standing as cult heroes was firmly set in stone.

Distancing itself from the norm, Testimony Of The Ancients took the standard approach of 8 full-length tracks (notably, 8 progressive death metal epics) and interjected succinct and atmospheric instrumental interludes, one-by-one alternating power and grace to achieve a formidable and other-worldly aura.

Because of this, Testimony Of The Ancients remains one of the most unique records in death metal’s illustrious history; experimental song structures jostling with obligatory neck-wreckers culminating in an absolutely perfect rendition of all that death metal can be when boundaries are unceremoniously broken.


1. Consuming Impulse (1989)

Pestilence – Consuming Impulse (1989, CD) - Discogs

Pestilence‘s debut, Malleus Maleficarum, was a thrash album in essence but their sophomore album, Consuming Impulse, was a death metal album through and through….and proved to be a key moment in death metal’s rampaging evolution.

Raw, honest, powerful and confident, Pestilence fashioned a collection of exemplary death metal songs built on a solid foundation of inventive riffs, atonal solos and Martin van Drunen’s recognisably unhinged howls.

Songs such as “Dehydrated”, “Suspended Animation” and “Out of the Body” have become part of the death metal lexicon and while Pestilence were already exhibiting much of the technicality that would go on to inform their later efforts, Consuming Impulse was still very much focused on delivering the heaviest, most brutal death metal around.

Consuming Impulse was simply Pestilence at their most ferocious and has gone down in history as both a classic of the genre and Pestilence‘s finest ever release!

Pestilence discography:

Malleus Maleficarum (1988) / Consuming Impulse (1989) / Testimony of the Ancients (1991) / Spheres (1993) / Resurrection Macabre (2009) / Doctrine (2011) / Obsideo (2013) / Hadeon (2018) / Exitivm (2021)

Also in this Series

The 5 Essential TESTAMENT Albums

The 5 Essential HELLOWEEN Albums

The 5 Essential SAXON Albums

The 5 Essential MEGADETH Albums

The 5 Essential DESTRUCTION ALBUMS

About Chris Jennings (1955 Articles)
I love metal. Always have. Always will. As editor of Worship Metal - a site dedicated to being as positive about metal and its myriad of sub-genres as possible - my aim is to 'worship' metal through honest reviews, current news and a wide variety of features; offering the same exposure to underground bands as we do to mainstream/well known acts. Our mantra; the bands are partners and we exist to serve the bands \m/

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