Sweden's Pest is a peculiar band. They began doing a haphazard
imitation of Darkthrone, among others. Over the course of their career, there have been some highs and lows, ultimately leading
them to embrace an even more old school sound to which they are better suited. However, their early years were quite mediocre
and this is exemplified by the 2002 E.P. Blasphemy is My Throne.
The songwriting here is incredibly weak. The compositions are too lengthy
and they go absolutely nowhere. The title track has a couple of riffs that could have been useful, but ended up languishing
amid several generic riffs that just go nowhere. These guys are just going through the motions, knowing which notes to play
but not why they need to be played or how to put it all together. There is not an ounce of darkness to be found within these
songs. "Along the Path of the Fallen" is another painfully generic track that meanders along for eight minutes and accomplishes
Side B is similarly frustrating. "Towards Desolation" features some half-decent
tremolo melodies that are very reminiscent of early Burzum, but the modern studio production sort of kills the vibe. The song
is then buried in an unmarked grave when things transition to a poor man's Ravishing Grimness. "Circle of Damnation's
Fire" displays some of the worst Celtic Frost imitation ever heard.
Sometimes, a band should demonstrate a bit of patience and, rather than
releasing material just for the sake of getting their name out there, they should hold off until they've written songs that
are worth listening to. In the case of Blasphemy is My Throne, Pest seemed overeager to release something, despite
the songwriting being utterly below-average and tedious to sit through. Some bands are slow starters and these guys really
should have remained in the demo stage a lot longer, because this E.P. is completely worthless.
Not long after I first got to Stockholm, years ago, I met an acquaintance
that was often pushing newer bands on me. I was exposed to the Swedish band Pest around the same time as Armagedda. Listening
to Blasphemy is My Throne and The Final War Approaching, it seemed that both were doing a rather bland imitation
of Darkthrone, so I ignored them. Though Armagedda redeemed themselves a little bit with their second album, Pest's debut
effort left a lot to be desired. Released in October 2003, Desecration has always bored me, no matter how many times
I've come back to it over the years.
When dealing with black metal from the twenty-first century, of
course there is a great deal of Darkthrone-worship to be found. In cases when the bands also add something of their own to
the formula, such as Clandestine Blaze and early Sargeist, this is perfectly fine. Unfortunately, Pest adds absolutely nothing.
These guys are competent musicians, but their songwriting is very weak. They do their best to rip-off various Darkthrone tracks,
sticking so close to the originals that the songs just seem like empty copies. When listening to this, I don't hear "Ninth
Nocturnal Departure" or "Dark Northern Winters" or whatever other titles they've chosen for their plagiarized nonsense. I
just hear a band failing to play covers of songs like "Natassja in Eternal Sleep" or "The Hordes of Nebulah". It's so bad
that even the vocal patterns and some bits of lyrics are based on the originals. There is absolutely no imagination, no creativity
on display here.
Another huge problem, aside from the terribly weak songwriting, is the production. The sound is much
too modern and clean for this style of music. The truth is that they could have written very interesting riffs and come up
with original vocal patterns and so on, but it would have sounded like garbage anyway due to the production. It's just too
thick and clear and does not suit the music, at all.
Of all the Darkthrone clones out there, this one just isn't worth
bothering with. Pest would later go on to make some decent music, from time to time, but Desecration was a swing and
a miss, completely. Even people that don't mind total copycat bands should avoid this, as it is quite boring and mundane.
(29 June 2014)
More often than not, bands will record their best and most inspired
material early on in their careers, only to degenerate over time and to become irrelevant. However, there are times when the
musicians go the opposite direction and actually get their acts together with time. In the case of the Swedish band Pest,
they had done nothing of note for some years, other than release a string of unimpressive and mediocre Darkthrone worship.
Yet, in 2004, they surprised many with the brilliant Daušafęrš E.P.
This release consists of a single track that stretches over twenty
minutes. Based on their past, one would think that Necro and Equimanthorn were unsuited for such a task, but they managed
to put together a monumental piece of black metal. "Lķfit es daušafęrš" sounds as if the band had put their Darkthrone records
aside for a while, instead preferring to listen to the classic works of Burzum. The slow build-up is reminiscent of "Det Som
En Gang Var", and some of the slower riffs also sound very much influenced by this track. The vocals, though, are far from
the tortured screams of Varg Vikernes. Necro's voice sounds utterly filled with hate and surely the old Norse lyrics help
with this harsh feeling. Throughout the song, more primitive riffs alternate with bitter cold tremolo melodies that come together
to create a dark and frozen atmosphere. Finally, the production of a Pest album really works well with the material, being
clear enough to hear all that is going on but still allowing for a raw edge. Despite its length, "Lķfit es daušafęrš" never
becomes tedious or repetitive, as there are several tempo changes. This is the sort of music that would be really fitting
to accompany one while wandering through a frozen wasteland, littered with corpses, on the way toward some endless dark forest
where the chains of mortality shall soon be broken forever. Therein lies one of the strongest qualities of the song, that
it is able to take the listener beyond their surroundings and on a journey into darkness. As it progresses, a sombre feeling
begins to emerge as the cold blade caresses your flesh. The knife will have the last word, and the snow-covered earth shall
drink your blood...
Daušafęrš is an epic, dark and majestic offering that is about
as essential as any post-90's release can be. Rather than purely mimic their main influence, as they had done on earlier albums,
Pest used it as a foundation on which to create some truly impressive black metal. The sole track here is dynamic, engaging
and never bores, whatsoever. It is dripping with a cold and dark atmosphere and exudes the sort of passion that the band's
previous output absolutely lacked. The strange thing is that, following such genius, the band went on to release another mediocre
album that seemed to have no connection with this, at all. Regardless, this E.P. is highly recommended.
(5 Mar. 2015)
Not long after the fairly brilliant Daušafęrš, Sweden's Pest returned
in disappointing fashion with the March 2005 release of their second full-length album, In Total Contempt. This is
a clear case of one step forward, two steps back. Though still clearly derivative of other bands, the previous E.P. was superior
to anything that the band had ever released. For a time, Pest had redeemed themselves. To then follow this with such a weak
effort is a bit puzzling.
In Total Contempt sounds like it was recorded by an entirely different
band than the one that created the monumental Daušafęrš E.P. Here, Pest returns to their tenth-rate Darkthrone worship,
unleashing nearly forty minutes of rehashed ideas with absolutely nothing added to the formula. To make matters worse, they
seem to have been listening to a lot of Panzerfaust when making this album, utilizing a watered-down take of Fenriz's
interpretation of Celtic Frost, at various times. I would say that these bits are out of place and ruin the flow of the songs,
but the truth is that these compositions are dreadful and seem to have just been thrown together with no real vision. As opposed
to the band's previous release, there isn't a shred of darkness or atmosphere to be found on this album.
Even if the songwriting had been leagues better, the production would
have remained a significant problem. Overall, it has a grating sense to it, something associated with a lot of modern recordings
that are trying to sound lo-fi without actually sticking to analog equipment. The vocals have some static effect to them,
just another horrible modern element that could have been done without.
Pest's second full-length is a tedious listen, indeed. To call In
Total Contempt a mediocre effort would imply that these guys even tried in the first place. This album is pure garbage,
through and through. The fact that they dedicated this disgusting piece of excrement to the recently-deceased Quorthon is
an insult to the man. There isn't a single positive thing that I can say about this atrocity. Despite its influences, this
album completely sounds like a product of its time and is nothing less than an utter failure. Avoid this, by all means.
(17 June 2016)