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Holland's Pestilence is generally regarded as one of the leaders of the late-'80s/early-'90s death metal scene, following closely behind Death as innovators in the genre. Combining elements of Slayer, Celtic Frost, Venom, and the Possessed, Pestilence was an underappreciated and short-lived outfit that, along with peers Sepultura, Atheist, and Morbid Angel, helped broaden and redefine the definition of death metal. Originally consisting of drummer Marco Foddis, bassist/vocalist Martin van Drunen, and guitarists Patrick Mameli and Randy Meinhard, Pestilence formed in the mid-'80s, and cranked out two excessively raw, garage-quality demos, Infected (three songs, 1986) and Dysentery (four songs, 1987). The group's promising and heavily Slayer-influenced combination of shifting double-time tempos, precise guitar work, and suitably morbid subject matter attracted the attention of Roadrunner Records, which signed the band and released its first full-length record, Malleus Maleficarum, in 1988. While the album was essentially a less-refined, altogether uglier version of German or Bay Area thrash metal -- defined by van Drunen's rapid, hoarse shouting -- it wasn't until 1989's Consuming Impulse that Pestilence found its creative niche. With Meinhard out of the fold and replaced by six-stringer Patrick Uterwijk, the group's increasingly impressive songwriting dynamics became tighter and more focused; while the band's rapid, precise tempo changes and nimble, downright evil-sounding, minor-key guitar work would help pave its ascent into the nether regions of death metal, it was van Drunen's newly developed, deranged, tracheotomy-patient growl that made the raw and highly entertaining record an over-the-top classic. (Van Drunen would later admit that his sub-par bass playing resulted in Mameli's recording all the bass tracks on Consuming Impulse, although the album's liner notes say otherwise.) However, mounting inter-band tensions found van Drunen departing Pestilence prior to the recording of 1991's Testimony of the Ancients, the frontman apparently not gelling with Mameli and Uterwijk's more progressive leanings. (Van Drunen would go on to front Dutch band Asphyx for three records, 1991's The Rack, 1992's Crush the Cenotaph EP, and 1993's Last One on Earth, as well as providing vocals for Comecon's Converging Conspiracies record (1993); he also fronted English death-grind mavens Bolt Thrower for a short time in the mid-'90s, although he never performed on any of the outfit's recordings before illness forced him out of the music business.) Mameli took over vocal duties for Testimony of the Ancients -- produced, notably, by famed Florida-based death metal knob-twiddler Scott Burns -- and the group recruited highly skilled bassist Tony Choy from Florida prog-deathsters Cynic (he also filled the bass slot for fellow Floridians Atheist for a while) for the album's recording and subsequent tour. A full-blown concept album, Testimony was a more technical, intellectual product than its predecessor, and featured the band's most refined musicianship and production values to date. Bored by the guttural, blood-and-gore stylings of an increasingly stagnant death metal scene, Mameli, Uterwijk, and Foddis -- who didn't hesitate to voice their increasing interest in jazz fusion -- put out a reactionary, uncompromisingly odd creation with album number four, 1993's Spheres, which featured new bassist Jeroen Paul Thesseling. Wanting an atypical producer for the genre, the group tracked down Steve Fontano, who helmed the board for Cacophany/Megadeth guitarist Marty Friedman's jazz/new age solo material, to co-produce the album. Boasting increasingly strange arrangements; off-kilter, jazzy rhythmic structures; and an abundance of synth-guitar textures from Mameli and Uterwijk, Spheres left most of Pestilence's fan base cold, and alienated the group from its label, which reportedly strongly disliked the record. Fed up with the close-minded atmosphere of the scene and industry in general, Mameli dismantled Pestilence shortly after the release of Spheres. Roadrunner would posthumously release Mind Reflections in 1994; essentially a record company cash-in, the album was a best-of compilation featuring tracks from all four Pestilence platters, a rare compilation song ("Hatred Within"), and six heretofore unreleased live tracks recorded at 1992's Dynamo Open Air Festival in Holland. Dutch label Displeased Records later re-released Malleus Maleficarum (which never saw a proper European release) in 1998 with the Infected and Dysentery demo cuts tacked on as bonus tracks. ~ John Serba
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  1.   Song
  2.   Reduced to Ashes
  3.   Soul Search
  4.   Saturation
  5.   Sinister
  6.   Deception
  7.   Prophetic Revelations
  8.   Confusion
  9.   Proliferous Souls
  10.   Horror Detox
  11.   Malleus Maleficarum/Antropomorphia
  12.   Amgod
  13.   In Sorrow
  14.   Dehydrated
  15.   The Secrecies of Horror
  16.   Aurian Eyes
  17.   Extreme Unction
  18.   Impure
  19.   Doctrine
  20.   Mindwarp
  21.   Obsideo
  22.   Neuro Dissonance
  23.   Lost Souls
  24.   Necromorph
  25.   Aura Negative
  26.   Malignant
  27.   Devouring Frenzy
  28.   Personal Energy
  29.   Bacterial Surgery
  30.   Chemo Therapy
  31.   Echoes of Death
  32.   Presence of the Dead
  33.   Multiple Beings
  34.   Dissolve
  35.   Commandments
  36.   Salvation
  37.   Laniatus
  38.   The Trauma
  39.   Cycle of Existence
  40.   The Predication
  41.   Darkening
  42.   Land of Tears
  43.   Demise of Time
  44.   Displaced
  45.   Stigmatized
  46.   Hate Suicide
  47.   The Level of Perception
  48.   Suspended Animation
  49.   Fiend
  50.   Soulrot
  51.   Dehydrated II
  52.   The Process of Suffocation
  53.   Changing Perspectives
  54.   Mind Reflections
  55.   Voices From Within
  56.   Chronic Infection
  57.   Hangman
  58.   Systematic Instruction
  59.   Y2H
  60.   Divinity
  61.   Osculum Infame
  62.   Resurrection Macabre
  63.   Spheres
  64.   In Sickness and Death
  65.   Bitterness
  66.   Transition
  67.   Testimony
  68.   Deify Thy Master
  69.   Subordinate To the Domination
  70.   Absolution
  71.   Out of the Body
  72.   Phileas
  73.   Distress
  74.   Super Conscious
  75.   Blood
  76.   Soulless
  77.   Parricide
  78.   Twisted Truth
  79.   Synthetic Grotesque
  80.   Free Us From Temptation
  81.   Infected
  82.   Against the Innocent
  83.   Delirial Live
  84.   Traitors Gate
  85.   Thorn of Death
  86.   Before The...
  87.   Affectation
  88.   Fight the Plague
  89.   Souless
  90.   Mind Wrap
  91.   Hatred Within
  92.   Multiple Beings
  93.   Mallevs Maleficarvm/Antropomorphia
  94.   Bacterial Surgrry
  95.   Before Them
  96.   Affection
  97.   Before the Plague
  98.   Delirical Life
  99.   Throne of Death
  100.   Into Hades