Pestilence
1986
The Netherlands
Music group
Bio 2009
Pestilence is a death metal band from the Netherlands founded in 1986. Later they incorporated more jazz and fusion elements into their music. They released four albums before disbanding in order to pursue other musical directions in 1994. The band reformed in 2008 and is preparing for their first studio album in 15 years.

Pestilence started in the Netherlands in the mid 1986 as a thrash metal band. The lineup, consisting of Patrick Mameli (guitar, vocals), Randy Meinhard (guitar), and Marco Foddis (drums), recorded two demos before gaining the attention of Roadrunner Records. After the first demo, Martin van Drunen (bass, vocals) joined them. These two demos - "Dysentery" (1986) and "The Penance" (1987) - are raw, sounding mostly like a cross between Possessed and "Schizophrenia" -era Sepultura. After signing to Roadrunner Records, the band released their debut album titled "Malleus Maleficarum" in 1988, further refining their approach to thrash metal. The new material was tighter and more focused than the demos. Shortly thereafter, guitarist Randy Meinhard left the band to pursue other musical goals in a new band named Sacrosanct.

Meanwhile, Pestilence recruited a new guitar player by the name of Patrick Uterwijk. In 1989, the band released their second album "Consuming Impulse", which was a turn toward to death metal. From a musical standpoint, things became heavier and more haunting. Vocally, Martin van Drunen moved away from cleaner vocals in favour of a more acidic growl. With its release they gained international attention, highly regarded worldwide by death metal fans. But before a follow-up album was released, the lineup changed once again; vocalist and bassist Martin van Drunen departed to front Asphyx.

Pestilence were faced again with the challenge of replacing a member, being without a vocalist and bassist. So while recording their third album they enlisted bassist Tony Choy, who at the time was playing with the technical death metal band Cynic and Patrick Mameli took over the vocal duties. With this lineup, they released the album "Testimony Of The Ancients" (1991). The new material was not as abrasive as the previous albums, but the band’s musicianship has obviously grown and the album had the best production job of the band’s catalogue.

However, Tony Choy was never a permanent member, and ended up going back to Florida to eventually play with Atheist. In the meantime the band enlisted the talents of Jeroen Paul Thesseling.

Over the years members of Pestilence were getting into other forms of music, primarily jazz fusion which the band wanted to pair with metal. The band’s fourth and so far the final album, "Spheres" was released in 1993. With every album they went through some kind of a change and "Spheres" was no exception. The band mixed jazz fusion elements into their death metal style, and used guitar synths throughout the album.

Pestilence’s popularity had risen with the release of each album, but unfortunately so did tensions between the members. So after a short period of time, the band unanimously decided to split up, feeling they had reached their creative climax.

In 1994, Roadrunner released one last CD from Pestilence: a best-of titled "Mind Reflections", containing tracks from all four albums, plus the rare song "Hatred Within" (originally released on the "Teutonic Invasion Part II" -compilation) and six unreleased live tracks recorded in at the Dynamo Open Air Festival in 1992. In 1998, Displeased Records re-released the debut album "Malleus Maleficarum" (which was originally never officially released in Europe), and included both demo recordings from 1986 and 1987.

In 2006, Metal War Productions, working with Martin van Drunen, released "Chronicles of the Scourge", containing two concert recordings and one unreleased bonus track. The two concerts are Live "Kix Festival" - Veghel, Holland (June 24, 1989) and Live Bochum, Germany (November 18, 1988). A bonus "rehearsal disc" was released with the first 1000 copies.

And finally, during 2008 the band decided to continue where they left off back in the mid nineties. There is new line up: founder Patrick Mameli (vocals, guitar), well known Tony Choy (bass) and drummer Peter Wildoer (drums, familiar from Darkane, Non-Human Level and others). Patrick is working on new songs which style he describes as modern fusion of "Testimony…" and "Spheres", but even more technical and more brutal. New album will be recorded by Jacob Hansen and produced by Patrick himself. The album will be titled as "Resurrection Macabre" and is released thru Mascot Records. No official releasedate is yet set, but if all goes as planned its gonna hit the stores early 2009.

Bio < 2009
Every death metal fan during the late ‘80s and early ‘90s must have heard of Pestilence. This classic band was one of the many to fall from grace during the mid ‘90s when the death metal scene became saturated with mediocre bands and the world (or at least America) had turned its ears to grunge.

Pestilence began in Holland in the mid ‘80s as a brutal thrash band. The lineup, consisting of Martin van Drunen (bass/vocals), Patrick Mameli (guitar), Randy Meinhard (guitar), and Marco Foddis (drums), recorded two demos before gaining the attention of Roadrunner Records.

These two demos, Infected (’86) and Dysentery (’87), were pretty raw affairs, sounding somewhat like a cross between Possessed and Schizophrenia-era Sepultura. After signing to Roadrunner, Pestilence unleashed their debut album Malleus Malficarum in ’88, further refining their approach to brutal thrash. Although the album was considered a “try out” for the label, the new material was tighter and more focused than the demo material, and was a killer debut nonetheless.

But before long, guitarist Randy Meinhard left the band to pursue other musical avenues. His new band, Sacrosanct, went on to record three albums: Truth is, What is (1990, classic old school thrash), Recessed for the Depraved (1991, focused and mature thrash), and Tragic Intense (1993, haunting and depressing thrash). Their debut was released on No Remorse Records while the latter two were on 1MF Records.

Meanwhile, Pestilence had acquired a new guitarist by the name of Patrick Uterwijk. And in 1989, the band released its second album Consuming Impulse. Gone were the days of thrash! Consuming Impulse was a full transformation to death metal. From a musical standpoint, things got much heavier and more haunting. And vocally, Martin van Drunen moved away from the cleaner vocals in favor of the sick, twisted, acidic growling everyone has come to love.

But a lineup change occurred once again. This time, vocalist/bassist Martin van Drunen left to front a new band. That band was Asphyx, one of the kings of doom-death metal. Filling in for the departed original vocalist/bassist Theo Loomans (RIP), Martin went on to record the classic monstrosity The Rack (1991), as well as the Crush the Cenotaph EP (1992) and Last One on Earth LP (1993), all of which were released on Century Media Records. Martin also had a brief stint in the death metal band Comecon, providing vocals on the band’s second album Converging Conspiracies (1993, Century Media Records), which was the band’s best album both vocally and musically. Word had it that Martin also formed a band called Submission, supposedly with Randy Meinhard. It is uncertain, to me at least, whether or not this is true, and if so, what the band ever recorded.

Pestilence was faced again with the challenge of replacing a member, being without a vocalist and bassist. So while recording their third album Testimony of the Ancients (1991), they enlisted bassist Tony Choy, who at the time was playing with technical death metallers Cynic, who were in their demo stage. Patrick Mameli then took over vocal duties and with this lineup, released the album and toured for it. At a time when death metal was exploding from various regions of the planet, Testimony of the Ancients was probably the album most people became familiar with first. The new material wasn’t as abrasive and twisted as the previous album, but the band’s musicianship continued to grow, the direction became even more focused, and the album had the best production job of the band’s catalog.

But Tony was really never a permanent member, and ended up going back to Florida to hook up with Atheist and help fill in the bass slot recently vacated by bass-god Roger Patterson (RIP). Tony helped record the band’s second and third albums for Death/Metal Blade Records: Unquestionable Presence (1991) and Elements (1993), respectively. Meanwhile Pestilence enlisted the talents of Jeroen Paul Thesseling.

Over the years, the Pestilence guys were getting into other forms of music, primarily jazz-fusion. And after Testimony of the Ancients, the band wanted to cross jazz-fusion with metal. Plus, for their fourth album they wanted a different kind of producer…someone who wasn’t familiar with metal music. But the band received negative responses to their new material, and ended up choosing Steve Fontana, who had worked with guitarist Marty Friedman.

Finally, the fourth and final Pestilence album, Spheres, was released in 1993. With every album, Pestilence went through some kind of a change. And Spheres was no exception. Pestilence mixed jazz-fusion elements into their patented death metal style, and through the heavy use of synth guitars throughout the album, they created a new and unique approach to death metal…something the genre needed at that point in time. However, the new musical direction alienated many of the band’s fans. Roadrunner didn’t like the album, especially the US office, and refused to support the band. Subsequent touring also proved to be troublesome. Pestilence’s popularity had risen with the release of each album, but unfortunately, so did tensions between the members. So after a short period of time, the band unanimously decided to call it quits, feeling they had reached their “creative climax”.

In 1994, Roadrunner was kind enough to release one last CD from Pestilence: a best-of entitled Mind Reflections, containing tracks from all four albums, plus the extremely rare “Hatred Within” (originally released on the Teutonic Invasion Part II compilation) and six unreleased live tracks recorded in at the Dynamo Open Air Festival in 1992. More recently, in 1998 Displeased Records re-released the debut album Malleus Malficarum (which originally never saw an official release in Europe) including both demo recordings from ’86 and ’87.

Without a doubt, Pestilence remains as one of the greatest classic death metal bands. The late ‘80s/early ‘90s death metal explosion was a special time in musical history, and Pestilence was a special band.

So where are the guys now? Martin van Drunen, after doing a few recordings with Asphyx, joined up with Bolt Thrower, filling in for original vocalist Karl Willets. But Martin was diagnosed with Alopecia, an illness that caused the loss of his hair. Not feeling up to the task of performing live in this state, he left the band prior to the recording of Mercenary (1998). What has he been up to since then? And did Submission really exist? Randy Meinhard, as previously mentioned, did three albums with Sacrosanct before disappearing. Anyone heard from him lately? Tony Choy, of course, played in Atheist until their demise. Rumors had it Tony was playing in Caribbean cruise ship bands lately, but may make a return to play on a new Atheist album. Anyone have any more information? Patrick Mameli lived in the US for a short while after Spheres before returning to his homeland Holland around 1995. Getting back into music, Patrick was done with metal, due to his overall frustrations with the scene, and wanted to concentrate his efforts on jazz fusion. At one point he had a project named Gestalt, which he described as being a cross between jazz, fusion, trance, ambient, and the doomy atmosphere of Pestilence. But he’s been quiet lately…so what’s the deal? The other members of Pestilence, Patrick Uterwijk, Marco, and Jeroen, were rumored to be involved in various jazz-fusion bands, but does anyone know for sure?

Van Drunen would go on to front Dutch band Asphyx for three records, 1991's The Rack, 1992's Crush the Cenotaph EP, and 1993's Last One on Earth, as well as providing vocals for Comecon's Converging Conspiracies record (1993); he also fronted English death-grind mavens Bolt Thrower for a short time in the mid-'90s. In 2003 Martin van Drunen joins German death metal band Death By Dawn.

(Source: Metal Rules)
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