10 Mar 2016

Pandemonium: "Misanthropy"

Unadventurous Polish death metal with twists of blackening fire
As of 2016 blackened death metal has received an immense resurgence. The success of Behemoth has completely blown up, and labels like Dark Descent Records, Nuclear War Now! Productions, Hell's Headbangers Records and Iron Bonehead Productions are barely releasing anything else. It's about time for this deadly combo to get wider spread recognition.

Pandemonium are something of a Polish treasure, having been active since 1989 in some capacity. As Domain they released three additional albums in '95, '99 and '02 respectively before changing their name back to Pandemonium again in 2004. Their long history of lineup changes has left only one long-time member remaining: Vocalist and guitarist Paul Mazur. The other founding member, Zuber, passed away in '97.

You could go on for a while trying to compare Pandemonium to their better known fellow countrymen in Behemoth, but rather we will let Misanthropy speak for itself. The Polish quartet puts an emphasis on death metal in their music. Though thin lines of tremolo guitar provide a solid part of the base work on Misanthropy, the group's fourth full length record, the focus lies with a thicker, more brutal hint toward death metal themes. Paul & Co. have an undeniable knack for songwriting and puts their full weight between every strum of a chord, every catatonic roar and every beat of a drum. But only rarely does the music found on Misanthropy exceed the relatively high standards created by other bands in the genre.

"The devotion is there, but the band seems stuck in a comfort zone."

The vocals have a tendency to sound more like the drunken ramblings of a homeless vodka-enthusiast than a skilled vocalist, and this is just one of the lacklustre elements that plagues Pandemonium. The devotion is there, but the band seems stuck in a comfort zone. Most tracks ramble on in the general tempo-wise neighbourhood, making them hard to discern but for the snootiest of connoisseurs. They've got the right idea, but without better build-up there's no pay-off to give you that extra bang for the buck.

Melodic tracks like Only the Dead Will See the End of War and the title track show that Pandemonium has the capacity to vary their songwriting style, so why not play around more with the structure itself? Avant-Garde Underground moves in the right direction but stops dead in its tracks before anything gets out of hand. Misanthropy needs daring, risk-taking and courage. The Polish group rejects standard terms like black and death metal, instead referring to themselves as "satanic dark metal", but whatever the term you can't get around that the adventurous spirit that made others big is a bit absent with Pandemonium, making the album stay just beyond the reach of greatness.


Released in 2012 by Pagan Records

Pandemonium on FACEBOOK

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