Last we met the secretive Basque duo Pestilength, they had released their second full-length Basom Gryphos, an album that was appropriately slimy and punishing but fell by the wayside due to its scattershot compositions and unashamed Portal worship. Its potential was there, lurking beneath the surface like eldritch grandiosity yet to be awoken, but the right combination of incantations and blasphemies were needed to truly wreak havoc on mankind. In many ways, what Pestilength does is braver than dissodeath acts of similar ilk, refusing to shroud its riffs in murk or atmosphere and letting the chord progressions do the talking – putting added pressure on the string attack. In this way, Solar Clorex rises to the challenge.
Pestilength has put together a far more streamlined and concise affair this time. While they still utilize much of the same ingredients used elsewhere in their discography, Solar Clorex is a much more focused mix of them. Dread of otherworldly variety saturates each track, while megaton weight is channeled through passages of doom while guitars chirp, clang, and clatter with each movement. Featuring a honed version of the Pestilength we know and love that channels its unhinged but oft off-the-rails predecessor, Solar Clorex feels like a chronicle of the duo stepping out from under their influences’ shadows into the blinding light of their own madness, even if its effectiveness is held back by a weaker second half.
As aforementioned, the assault that lies within Solar Clorex remains relatively similar to the last go, but it’s a far more successfully varied affair. Exchanging full-on blackened death blitzes with weighty doom passages, with a simmering intensity that was unseen in its predecessor, Pestilength feels honed, as the tracks contained herein feel heavier, fresher, and more unique. “Neerv,” “Baleful Profusion,” and “Verbalist Aphonee” are good examples of the act’s classic Morbid Angel-meets-Portal approach that feels like unhinged mania properly channeled, shifting between claustrophobic tremolo and blastbeat-led sections counterbalanced by dense doom attacks of slower simmering intensity – amplified by a good handle on staccato punctuations and off-kilter rhythms. In ways of experimentation, brutal slam moments add further weight to tracks like “Occlusive,” the maddening ascensions and descents lead to jazzy passages in “Enthronos Wormwomb” and “Dilution Haep,” while the haunting sustained ambiance of “Choirs of None” spruce up a slow burn of a track. The vocals are notable throughout, drenched in distortion and causticity with blackened viciousness, adding to the otherworldly and manic attitude Pestilength offers.
While undoubtedly head-above-shoulders better than its predecessor, the second half of Solar Clorex nonetheless features Pestilength’s spark dimming. “Dilution Haep” showcases this slow-motion nosedive, that as it attempts the maddening acrobatics of “Occlusive” or “Baleful Profusion,” it cannot stick the landing, hanging around for too long without ever quite successfully making any sort of statement, an unfortunate trend furthered by “Oxide Veils.” These two tracks test the stamina, relying on jarring shifts of tonal and instrumental varieties without much purpose behind them, with “Choirs of None” offering the purpose but maintaining the lethargy – blessedly injected with life in “Verbalist Aphonee.” Even then, the closer drags for just a little too long at times as well.
“Verbalist Aphonee” offers a similar rhythmic conundrum the way Basom Gryphos’ “Tephra Codex” did, and it is incredibly reassuring to see Pestilength offering more of a streamlined whole with varied highlights aplenty across Solar Clorex. It’s energetic, thunderously heavy, and maddeningly caustic, with more brutal and human elements adding to the fray. However, the second half never quite lives up to the first, despite its impressive atmospheric prowess, with the final four songs largely blurring together with only the final two offering moments of interest. Nonetheless, Pestilength offers its best album yet, honing the classic brutality of Morbid Angel with the crawling insanity of Portal in a way that recalls recent Golgothan Remains or Heaving Earth. The first act makes up for the second quite neatly, and Solar Clorex is worth at least a few spins around the tentacled block from which no man returns sane.
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Debemur Morti Productions
Websites: pestilength.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/pestilength
Releases Worldwide: February 16th, 2024
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