Album Review: PEST The Crowning Horror
Pest have never been a progressive band. Throughout their career, Equamanthorn and Necro have never really strayed from the late 80's/early 90's black metal template that was established by bands like Mayhem and Darkthrone. But on The Crowning Horror, the band's latest offering, Pest have finally changed it up a bit.
The Crowning Horror sees Pest moving in a decidedly new direction, albeit only slightly, but it's not the direction fans were probably expecting. While many of their former peers have evolved past the old school black metal sound, Pest has chosen to regress to a sound that recalls paleo-black metal bands like Venom and the NWOBHM. This regression encompasses the lyrics, music, and even how the album sounds.
While The Crowning Horror isn't truly a lo-fi record, it's solidly mid-fi. The album just sounds old, like a musty LP from the early 80's. The songs sound a little flat and two dimensional which is probably a conscious nod to the era Pest is referencing, but the regressive production on the album doesn't add anything to the listening experience. It feels like a purely aesthetic choice.
Lyrically Pest are covering well trodden ground here. Grimness and Satanic imagery is the rule. Songs have names like "Devil's Mark", "Holocaust", and "Demon". This is the kind of thing that would have frightened parents and pastors in the 90's, but, in 2013, EC Comics-style Satanism is impossible to pull off seriously without looking silly. Venom and King Diamond are able to get away with this style of music because they have their tongues jammed firmly in their respective cheeks (not to mention a truck load of gravitas), but the lyrical themes Pest is dealing with were worn out before the band released their first LP.
Although The Crowning Horror is largely unsatisfying, there are still a few catchy songs to be heard. "Volcanic Eyes" is an uptempo rocker that sounds like a cross between Venom and Motörhead, and "Devil's Mark" has the cocky swagger of early AC/DC or Judas Priest. Really, though, there aren't a lot of stand-out tracks here. The Crowning Horror is 10 tracks long, but it feels like the album is twice that length. Many of the songs sound similar and, consequently, the listening experience gets tedious after the fourth track.
There's nothing inherently wrong with writing a retro sounding album, but there needs to be some originality to keep listeners hooked. Pest seem like they were just recycling older bands' riffs and lyrical themes when they were writing this album. Why would anyone listen to a second rate Venom clone when Black Metal is readily available and much more entertaining?