The latest addition to the Decibel magazine Hall of Fame is Dutch thrash legends Pestilence's 1989 album Consuming Impulse. You can watch the video for the "single" from that album, "Out of the Body," above, and read an excerpt from Chris Dick's article - which includes interviews with all four bandmembers - below!
All things being fair, death metal was a morbid accident. Tape traders, zines, dudes who formed record labels and hordes of disenfranchised, rock ‘n’ roll-fed youth were all willing to risk societal abandonment and future professional pursuits to make the music they adored a reality. Nobody involved in the formative stages of death metal would’ve predicted that it would be the recognized force it is today. That its slimy black tentacles infiltrated the sleepy Dutch town of Enschede in the mid-’80s wasn’t a minor miracle—it was inevitable.
When Pestilence formed in ’86, they were already sore necks-deep into Slayer, Kreator and Possessed. Like so many, they yearned to replicate the unbridled aggression of their idols, and absorbed the aesthetic like a pack of insatiable dogs. Out of the dark of demos Dysentery and The Penance, Pestilence emerged with debut album Malleus Maleficarum in the fall of ’88. Guitarist Patrick Mameli, frontman/bassist Martin Van Drunen, drummer Marco Foddis and guitarist Randy Meinhard devised the blueprint for the European version of Sepultura’s Schizophrenia. Unquestionably manic and defiantly bold, Malleus proved that four kids from a small industrially defunct town were ready to overthrow Amsterdam, Rotterdam and the rest of the world, if need be.
Yet after the release of Malleus, the band split right down the middle. Mameli and Van Drunen stayed on, while Meinhard left to brainchild Sacrosanct with Foddis. Pestilence picked up young guitarist Patrick Uterwijk and bassist Bas Dooijes from Amsterdam-based Theriac, with the intention of Van Drunen shedding four-string duties. However, Dooijes didn’t work out, and Foddis jogged back to his proper position at the Pestilence drum stool. With the new lineup intact, work commenced quickly on the songs that would make up Consuming Impulse. More informed by early Death, Pestilence had become—after Thanatos, of course—the Netherlands’ most extreme export. When Consuming Impulse landed on Roadrunner’s short-lived death metal imprint RC, it was both beginning and end for the Van Drunen era. Nevertheless, with songs like “Dehydrated,” “Suspended Animation” and fan-favorite “Out of the Body,” Pestilence’s second long-player melted minds and liquefied brains. Consuming Impulse was, in fact, a game-changer.
So, it is with great respect for all things bubonic, devoid of water and suffocated that we induct Pestilence’s groundbreaking Consuming Impulse into the Hall of Fame—its tacky, now cult cover intact.
There’s only one year between Malleus Maleficarum and Consuming Impulse. What was the timeline leading up to the recording of Consuming Impulse?
Patrick Mameli: Actually, there was no real timeframe. The contract says that every year one can make an album. Since we were still very young and wild, I was constantly practicing and coming up with new riffs. It happened that we got to listen to the pre-production of Death’s Leprosy. I immediately knew this way the way to go. I always followed what Chuck [Schuldiner] was doing. I liked his vision. But I never saw myself as a copycat. So, we were still very much influenced by Possessed and early Death. It was definitely the direction to go in.
Martin Van Drunen: It was very turbulent. We had several lineup changes. We had all kinds of music already done, but we didn’t have the musicians to rehearse with. By the time we got the lineup together, it went really fast.
Marco Foddis: At that time, we were pretty creative, and knew pretty much how the next record should sound. Every CD reflects a certain period in our life, what we were into at that specific moment and what our influences were. Malleus Maleficarum was our thrash metal era, being influenced by bands such as Slayer, Infernäl Mäjesty. [In the] early ’90s, the Florida death metal scene took over, but we knew bands like Death, Massacre and Morbid Angel long before their CD releases—we used to be tape-traders in their demo days. I remember us listening to bands such as Obituary and being impressed by John Tardy. We said to Martin, “You’re a pussy compared to this guy!” [Laughs] It worked well, ’cause it got him to get his voice the way it did on the album.
When Consuming Impulse was released, the Dutch death metal scene had exploded. Do you recall where you fit in that scene? I recall there was some alleged tension between Dutch bands at the time. Maybe that was all made up by the media.
Mameli: Well, since we were the first ones to get signed by a major record company, there was a lot of jealousy and negativity going on. You had a scene from Amsterdam, a scene more from the south, a scene from the east. I was a guy from the east. There wasn’t much camaraderie there. Since we had the Roadrunner profile, there was a lot of animosity in Holland, between Pestilence and Thanatos. But there were a few bands that we could relate to or hang out with without any animosity.
Van Drunen: Well, it’s more how a New Yorker looks at a villager from Texas. It wasn’t really just between bands, but with football teams as well. I don’t know if it’s hostility, but Stephan [Gebédi] from Thanatos was also a reviewer in Aardschok, which is a bit of a famous magazine if you’re from the Netherlands. He didn’t really slag us off, but he didn’t like the demo either. So, we said, “What the fuck are you talking about?! You play in Thanatos! You think your band is better than we are?!” So, I guess there was hostility between Thanatos, who were from Rotterdam, and Pestilence, and we were from Enschede. I don’t think it was between cities too much, though. Gorefest came from the southwest, and we made jokes about them, but that’s about it. We liked each other, so there were no problems at all with them. But Thanatos was the first Dutch death metal band. Funny, really. Stephan, who is now with me in Hail of Bullets, was a little bit older. I have to give them the credit for being the first.
Patrick Uterwijk: Everybody wanted to be the number one band of Holland. We were number one at the time.
Foddis: Well, there could have been a little bit of tension, but nothing worth mentioning. We didn’t really care. I think we were one of the first Dutch death metal bands to release CDs, at least on a “major” label. There were bands such as Thanatos, which mainly were known from the underground scene, and I think bands such as Gorefest came after us. I really couldn’t tell you what today’s scene is, though.
Patrick Mameli had stated Chuck Schuldiner was an equal and an adversary. I think there were slogans like “the Dutch Death” floating around at the time. What did that mean exactly?
Mameli: As for me, I was a tape-trader. We got a hold of the [Death] demos. We felt this guy was onto something. We just wanted to be the European answer to Chuck. For us, just going on tour with them a bunch of times didn’t make it easier. People started to compare us. We were heavily influenced by the demos. On our demos, we kind of sounded like them a lot. He was there a year before us, so he beat us to it. He kind of created that style. Same with Possessed. They’re the forefathers of death metal. Anything you do will sound like them. So, we really had to start to think about our own style to not be compared to Death. We didn’t want to be a cover band. I think that’s when we realized it wasn’t too good to listen to death metal all the time. You get influenced by it so easily that it’s difficult to find your own style. Once we let go of the Morbid Angels and the Deicides, we found our own style.
Uterwijk: He invented the typical death metal riffing. All the bands around that time automatically sounded like Death.
Van Drunen: I don’t recall that. On the American tour, there was healthy competition—if you’re in a band you always want to be better than the other ones—between bands. We were playing with them and Carcass. This is not bad-mouthing or whatever, but Death had just put out Spiritual Healing. They were no match for us when we had Consuming Impulse, which had also come out a little earlier. Chuck was really aware of it. I think he started to pull shows and started treating us not too well. There was nothing between him and Patrick [Mameli] on a personal level. Honestly, I have always thought Patrick [Mameli] was a better guitar player than Chuck. Patrick was on a different level. I’ve always said Patrick’s a marvelous guitar player. He’s gifted. This is just my opinion, though.
To read the whole article, buy the May 2013 issue of Decibel now!