On their debut LP, Pest Control exterminate crossover thrash with an album that will be hard to top.

Release date: February 10, 2023 | Quality Control HQ | BandcampInstagramFacebook

Following on from Weekly Featured Artist The Flex, it’s time for part 2 of the Leeds hardcore Everything Is Noise takeover with the debut LP Don’t Test The Pest by crossover upstarts Pest Control. Leeds has been a hub of great hardcore for a number of years, with bands such as The Flex and Higher Power leading the scene while a number of new bands have been appearing in the last couple of years. Don’t Test The Pest is the latest ripper of a record to come out of the city with its unashamed thrash attack imbued with the urgency of hardcore. With merch playing on the classic artwork for Pestilence’s Consuming Impulse, song titles such as “Extermination” and “The Fumigator” (from their 2020 demo) and a fancy-dress cockroach at the release show, any time spent with the band will be fun.

Hardcore’s typical home field advantage comes in the darkened, cobweb-covered venues hidden away in the back streets, and Pest Control’s hometown is no exception. This following weekend saw the record release show for this album, a packed-out and chaotic show at the scene staple venue BOOM. In a venue that hosted British thrash legends Acid Reign a week earlier, Pest Control stirred up a riotous energy. Despite having much in common with thrash metal, it was a very hardcore affair with a stage dives, acrobatic and cathartic release across the pit. The sold-out country crowd were treated to a strong line-up featuring Fate (with Pest Control’s second guitarist Joe Williams on bass), the farewell show of label mates Mastermind, and a frenetic appearance from Stiff Meds. In what was a real celebration of the UKHC scene, Pest Control started their live support of Don’t Test The Pest in some style.

Across 11 tracks (including an intro and an interlude), the band haven’t ripped apart any rule book for either thrash or hardcore yet manage to sound fresh and individual. The opening instrumental “Extermination” is somewhat typical as an intro, with chords plucked and a slow solo played over the top with a smattering of reverb. The opening racket and blazing thrash riff of single “Masquerade Party” is again a familiar thrash trope, but the intensity and immediate propulsion is something more rare. Pest Control just exude energy and attitude throughout every second of the album. It is very clearly indebted to many a thrash legend while following a hardcore lineage, but with their own vibrant personality.

There is no shortage of riffs to go alongside Leah’s strong and energetic hardcore vocals. Beneath the flashy melodies these exhibit, Ben Jones’ bass is admirable. He manages to hold together the raptorial guitar attack while also developing a formidable combo with drummer Jack Padarariu (also of death metal upstarts Mortuary Spawn), even managing flashy moments of his own such as “Wake In Hell”. While Joe Kerry’s riffage and soloing are an obvious highlight, the whole band manage to show off their instrumental chops on each tracks. Leah Massey’s vocals similarly show a swagger that the band innately have, giving them a real edge over most thrash bands in a genre that often leaves a lot to be desired.

The assault is consistently powerful after a short “Hibernation” (a sibling of opener “Extermination”), jumping straight into more sub-2-minute blasts of crossover bliss. Not since Power Trip has the marriage of thrash and hardcore been as pertinent as it is here, the attitude that set the legendary band apart is evident throughout Don’t Test The Pest. The undoubtable highlight comes in closer “The Great Deceiver”. A (in comparison to the rest of the album) sprawling, almost 5-minute track and second song on their LP promo, it really hits the nail on the head to close the album. With what sounds like a classic thrash hook stamped across the track, it’s an almost mid-paced addition to the album but lacking no ferocity. It has absolutely everything the band can offer: memorable riffs, a pile-up worthy chorus, and a slab of forceful rhythms.

On their debut LP, Pest Control are a hydra of thrash metal – when you cut off one riff, two more will appear. But don’t think of this this as style over substance, there’s more than riffs to Pest Control as they offer up a true album of the year contender.



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