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Review of the Album "Malleus Maleficarum" by Dutch Metal Band Pestilence

Ara is a journalism graduate from California State University, Northridge, who is always looking to explore his writing opportunities.


Malleus Maleficarum is the 1988 debut album by Dutch metal band Pestilence and it is before their 1989 studio album Consuming Impulse which as we said earlier is considered a cult classic. Being a fan of vocalist Martin Van Drunen, covering the significance of this debut album was a foregone conclusion in a way.

Pestilence Uses Thrash Metal and Punk in This Album

This debut album however feels more like a thrash metal album combined with touches of that punk metal feel. The vocals are harsher without those death metal growls that Martin would do in the next album. This album with a very unusual name has melodic riffs that resemble bands such as Acid Reign or Metallica. The vocals in this album resemble a more rough style as opposed to the growls that you will hear in Consuming Impulse.

"Chemo Therapy" Also Known as Chemotherapy

One Aspect of the Vocals Worth Keeping in Mind

It is also a comforting thing to be able to hear the vocals of Martin Van Drunen who upon close analysis does indeed sound like the late Chuck Schuldiner who unfortunately departed this Earth far too soon due to health issues.

The Vocal and Musical Style of Malleus Maleficarum

As opposed to the more death metal growls by Martin Van Drunen in the album Consuming Impulse, in this debut his vocals are faster and more of a rougher style. It depends what you prefer to listen to. The four member lineup consisting of Italians, Germans and Dutch has teamed up to create a rather impressive display of thrash metal, punk, and fast riffs. In terms of the style of this album, it was a style that was widely accepted for that time period because so many bands used this speed to their advantage. Stylistically, Malleus Maleficarum with its melodies actually isn’t much different than Acid Reign’s Obnoxious album. Even the guitar sounds and tone is similar to that one.

Speaking of that, the songs in this album do cover health and medical related subjects in songs such as “Chemo Therapy” and “Bacterial Surgery.” However, starting off this debut album is the two part song “Malleus Maleficarum / Antropomorphia” which lyrically is a song about what happens when there is genetic manipulation going on and the division of cells is altered with. The song says that the changing of the cell structure is what led to death.

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How Good of an Album is Malleus Maleficarum?

“Systematic Instruction” is not only the last song in this very good debut album but it also is a song that is about what happens in a society where the dictator is in charge of everything. The propaganda machine kicks in as the population is put under his control and the citizens are sent off to war to meet his political ambitions. Malleus Maleficarum is not a long, drawn out album like some of the thrash metal albums of the decade but at just under 40 minutes it is of a decent length and it does not end too quickly either. It is a really tough call as to whether this album is better than the one that came after it but this debut is a good piece of thrash metal released in a year that they would have been competing with several other artists maybe for bragging rights.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2021 Ara Vahanian

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