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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.   Demise of Time
  3.   Multiple Beings
  4.   Blood
  5.   Echoes of Death
  6.   Reduced to Ashes
  7.   Free Us From Temptation
  8.   Changing Perspectives
  9.   Lost Souls
  10.   Saturation
  11.   Displaced
  12.   Obsideo
  13.   Deception
  14.   Systematic Instruction
  15.   Subordinate To the Domination
  16.   Prophetic Revelations
  17.   Land of Tears
  18.   Aura Negative
  19.   Darkening
  20.   Transition
  21.   Soulrot
  22.   Necromorph
  23.   Absolution
  24.   Neuro Dissonance
  25.   Hate Suicide
  26.   Fiend
  27.   Spheres
  28.   Soul Search
  29.   Chemo Therapy
  30.   Malleus Maleficarum/Antropomorphia
  31.   Presence of the Dead
  32.   Resurrection Macabre
  33.   Testimony
  34.   Super Conscious
  35.   Malignant
  36.   Confusion
  37.   Aurian Eyes
  38.   Mind Reflections
  39.   Osculum Infame
  40.   Bacterial Surgery
  41.   Commandments
  42.   Extreme Unction
  43.   Proliferous Souls
  44.   Deify Thy Master
  45.   Out of the Body
  46.   The Trauma
  47.   Stigmatized
  48.   Mindwarp
  49.   Bitterness
  50.   Impure
  51.   The Process of Suffocation
  52.   In Sickness and Death
  53.   Synthetic Grotesque
  54.   Laniatus
  55.   Chronic Infection
  56.   Salvation
  57.   Phileas
  58.   In Sorrow
  59.   The Level of Perception
  60.   Personal Energy
  61.   The Secrecies of Horror
  62.   Dehydrated II
  63.   Parricide
  64.   Soulless
  65.   Amgod
  66.   Doctrine
  67.   Distress
  68.   Dissolve
  69.   Devouring Frenzy
  70.   Divinity
  71.   Horror Detox
  72.   Hangman
  73.   Cycle of Existence
  74.   Sinister
  75.   Y2H
  76.   Twisted Truth
  77.   The Predication
  78.   Voices From Within
  79.   Suspended Animation
  80.   Dehydrated
  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