For "Pestilence By Beemahr" -- my short story detailing the grotesque comeuppance a mad perfumer-cum-exterminator receives at the tiny, multitudinous feet of a surprisingly sentient army of flesh-eating gypsy moth caterpillars amidst an egg-web festooned apocalypse (available today in the Grey Matter Press rock n' roll-themed horror anthology Savage Beasts) -- I drew inspiration from the human-body-as-insect-incubator track "Out of the Body" from Pestilence's towering sophomore album Consuming Impulse:
In the darkness
They crawl on places
Where you can't see or hear they come
When it's dawn they will be gone
A swelling on my body
Makes me suffer, live in anxiety
No time to waste
Just open the abcess, will you please help me
The ignorance is dominating
Remedies you try
I can not live this life any longer
What is it and why?
Those are some ghastly, evocative lyrics courtesy death metal drummer extraordinaire Marco Foddis, but bassist Martin van Drunen was hardly a slouch himself when it came to painting damnable portraits in the minds of listeners. Add to this the dark (and, yes, extremely extreme) musical vision and technical wizardry of Patricks Mameli and Uterwijk and it is easy to see how Consuming Impulse landed itself a sweet slot in our hallowed Hall of Fame.
That said, a record that so fully and perfectly embodies a unified theory of brutality cannot be ranked in the standard way. So in lieu of the usual numerical song and dance, we decided to match Pestilence-the-band tracks to this list of pestilence-the-pestilences courtesy the fine folks at Batzner Pest Control.
Lost in the desert for reasons unknown
An extensive barren plain before you
A gruesome affliction; the heat of the sun
Don't really know in what direction to go
The shrinking of your skin, bursting lips
your body-fluid is floating away
The claws of death got you in their grip
Swarms of stinging siafu ants may not actually appear in this fantastically bleak re-imagining of America's "Horse With No Name," but the frantic/frenetic pace and twist-and-sting riffs here suggest a stinging swarm could easily appear at any moment. (Though whether these are hallucinations from the thirst driving you insane or not is, of course, open to interpretation...)
2. “Process of Suffocation”/ Asian Giant Hornet
Choking in the gas we self produced
The death of mother earth I introduce
Chemical rain drips from the sky
The more we breathe, the sooner we die
Climates change, oceans vaporize
Woods becomes deserts; no vegetation
Species of animals exterminated
The earth makes its last rotation
Our friends at Batzner Pest Control tell us the Asian Giant Hornet is "the biggest hornet in the world at two-inches in length and a wing span of three inches." Meanwhile, "the sting from its one-fourth inch long stinger has been explained as feeling 'like a hot nail being driven into your skin.'" It's one of the precious few creatures that seems like it could survive and thrive in the environmental dystopia imagined in "Process of Suffocation" and the buzz-buzz-sting of the riffs would be the perfect soundtrack to its deadly exploits.
3. “Suspended Animation”/ Tsetse Fly
Ages wait for a cure
No more pain they have to endure
They added themselves to the dead
Left their faith in science's hands
Forever frozen is their destination
In a state of suspended animation
Forgotten humans immersed in cryogenic deep freeze might not be perfectly analogous to the "sleeping disease" the Saharan tsetse fly delivers, it's true. The huge, chest-rattling chords Mameli and Uterwijk let loose throughout "Suspended Animation," however, will, at high enough volumes, lay your ass out as effectively as either. Pick your poison -- hot or cold?
4. “The Trauma”/Centipedes
Years kept passing by
Still my mind hasn't forgotten
Corpses lying among debris
An unstoppable march of an opening gives way to a cascade of slithery hundred finger riffing, this track forces listeners to ponder the trauma of both war and carpal tunnel syndrome.
5. “Chronic Infection”/ Rat Fleas
Respiratory skin eruptions
With protrudes eyes they see
How facial features are rotting away
Trapped, seperated from humanity
Epidemic, fatal destiny
A foul oudor from gangrenous parts
Incurable sick they'll be
Oh, hey look: Here comes Foddis to drop some thousand-tons-of-bricks science on our motherfucking heads. This song kills. Then kills again. And again. Plus, it has a bridge with tolling bells. How could we not assign it the pest responsible for the Black Death?
6. “Out of the Body”/ Kissing Bug
While you're asleep
They'll enter your skin
The search for the new place they will dwell
They give their children
A place to be born
You won't notice except for the smell
This beefed up ode to dark late eighties thrash is an earworm -- though not the eat-you-from-the-inside-type these lyrics suggest, thank-fucking-gawd.
7. “Echoes of Death”/ Africanized Honey Bee
Walking in the other side
I can't tell the difference
Between day and night
Voices I can hear
Hidden somewhere, but they're near
This is early death metal's "Flight of the Valkyries" -- a groundbreaking, rousing track that gives you wings and amps you up to employ them for ill-intent. As Batzner warns of the bees, we warn of this song: "If you do get stung, expect to be stung more than once. These bees" -- like these songs -- "have been known to take down a horse." *
8. “Deify Thy Master”/ Wasps and Bees
Deify thy master, he will be the one
who protects you from all what's evil
Deify thy master, a divine personality, holiness
Deify thy master, your minds are filled with my
Deify thy master, follower's fanaticism leading
to their own destruction
This regal slab of ruling uber-aggression and way ahead of its time multi-dimensional songwriting makes clear who was running the proto-tech death hive back in '89.
9. “Proliferous Souls”/ Anopheles Mosquito
An elegant composition that lulls you into a peaceful repose ahead of the sting from....
10. “Reduced to Ashes”/Fire Ants
Saved by the stake
Reduced to ashes
What a fucking coda! "Reduced to Ashes" dumps all the best parts of the previous nine sensory assaults into a stainless steel blender. The ensuing concoction is pure bit, venom, and paradoxical bliss. A great alternative for those looking to avoid the anaphylactic shock fire ants attempt to peddle without the tuneage.
* Actually, a pretty cool/smart take on near death experiences.
Still need more Pestilence? Consuming Impulse was inducted into the Hall of Fame in issue 103, available here.