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Pessimist - "Evolution Unto Evil" (CD)

Pessimist - "Evolution Unto Evil" CD cover image

"Evolution Unto Evil" track listing:

1. Mensa Rea (With Evil Intent) (3:50)
2. Day of Wrath (3:50)
3. The Pestilence (Kreator cover) (6:26)
4. 1,000 Eyes (Death cover) (4:00)
5. Killing Is My Business (Megadeth cover) (3:05)
6. Phantasm (Possessed cover) (3:27)
7. Let The Demons Rest (4:58)
8. Cult of The Initiated (5:37)
9. Summoned To Suffer (3:04)
10. Tunnel Rats (6:07)
11. Dungeonlorde (7:20)
12. Dirge (1:07)

Reviewed by on January 13, 2010

"The disc features twelve tracks that were never released before, spanning Pessimist’s career, and as the album progresses it becomes clear why most of them were left on the cutting floor."

Pessimist is a along running U.S. black and death metal act, but they’ve been mostly dormant for some time, having released their last full-length album back in 2002. Their latest offering, “Evolution Unto Evil,” doesn’t continue their sound to new places, but rather is an overview of their entire history. The disc features twelve tracks that were never released before, spanning Pessimist’s career, and as the album progresses it becomes clear why most of them were left on the cutting floor.

Because the songs come from different eras and recording sessions, there are noticeable differences in the production and mixing a few of the tracks. There is a fuzzy and somewhat muted quality to the production in songs like “Cult of the Initiated” and “Let the Demons Rest,” although it does give a bit of old school charm. Some of the songs are also from early demo work, leaving the album a little uneven in terms of overall quality.

Pessimist doesn’t so much play blackened death metal as they play black metal and death metal at the same time. The band members don’t ever blend the two styles, but rather play both styles over top of each other. In some places it makes an interesting combination of sounds, but in most instances it just ends up sound messy. The vocals switch back and forth between deep death grunts to high pitched black metal screams without any rhyme or reason, and the non-stop blast beating gets old pretty quick.

From time to time Pessimist likes to throw thrash into the mix as well, which is the strongest draw of the album. When the vocals are forgettable and the drums are blasting ever onward, it’s frequently the guitar work driving the music. “Evolution Unto Evil” has four cover songs, and the bands they originally hail from shouldn’t be surprising considering how Pessimist like to mix thrash with black and death. Kreator, Death, Possessed, and Megadeth all get the Pessimist treatment before the album ends. The cover of Megadeth’s “Killing Is My Business” is easily the best the album has to offer, with lots of catchy hooks and decent vocal work. The lyrics to the track remain as juvenile as they ever were, but they sound more menacing coming from a deep growl.

Despite the varying styles played throughout the disc the overall simplicity of the music creates a repetition that Pessimist can’t seem to avoid. If it weren’t for the differences in production level and the presence of cover tracks it would be difficult to tell any of the songs apart. The old school vibe doesn’t always work in the disc’s favor either. The overly high pitched screams and clean chanted vocals on “Cult of the Initiated” might have been forgiven in the late ‘80s, but now they just alternate between unintentionally funny and outright annoying.

Serious fans of Pessimist might find some appeal in “Evolution Unto Evil,” as it fills in the gaps between albums and demos. Fans of older black and death metal that enjoy a good deal of thrash might also dig a few of the tracks, but the album as a whole feels like it should have remained unreleased.

Highs: The thrashy guitars gives a nice counterbalance to the death and black metal vocals.

Lows: Bad production, lots of repitition, and some of the vocals are unintetionally funny.

Bottom line: An album composed of previously unreleased tracks that will probably only appeal to hardcore fans of Pessimist.

Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls
2.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)