Saturday, 9 May 2015

Pendulous - A Palpable Sense of Love & Loss (2015) / 85%

An enjoyable sense of doom and death

I was recommended this band by a friend and I judged them
perhaps too hastely because of the cover art but also the title of their album. I thought it was a bit corny and I expected the music to be some sort of pseudo depressive metal/rock à la Katatonia. But eh, I was wrong. While it's certainly sad, it's serious, well written and not sappy at all. The LA quintet's debut album is an excellent album and it's already showcasing some serious songwriting skills. They understood how to thoroughly mix genres very well, even though it's their debut full length, these dudes are certainly experienced musicians and this record is a proof of it.

It's clearly an extreme doom metal album with nods to both doom/death and funeral doom, there's even some post rock elements. It's all wonderfully mixed together in long intricate songs. A track like “Hibernal Sun” is including some really lovely post rock moments and it fits very well. Furthermore, the transitions between the genres are done effortlessly and the ten plus minutes tracks formula works for them. The Metal Archives classifies them as a doom/death metal band and, for the most part, it's accurate but they're much more than that. They're one of those bands that are hard to classify since they're largely original. I guess tags like “dark metal” or “atmospheric doom metal” are also accurate for Pendulous. One thing that's pretty obvious is that you will not find any happiness here!

Eric Rezső Mendoza (also stellar in his former band Dona Eis Requiem) has to be the highlight of this album, the duality of his vocals is quite interesting. Ranging from deep, harsh vocals borrowing from both death and black metal (but mostly funeral doom) to profound cleans reminding me of Aaron Stainthorpe or the emotional traditional doom voice of Patrick Walker. E.R.M. has a very versatile voice and it helps to create the same vocal combo present in Mourning Beloveth, a band that I could identify as their nearest peer.
The album starts and ends with spoken word over some gloomy music and I thought they were a bit too much and unnecessary, that's almost ten minutes out of a hour album but, at least, he has an intriguing voice so it's not completely useless. I have a tendency not to skip any tracks but I guess I will when I'll listen to this album again. These spoken vocals are also included in the bulk of the album and it adds to the varied atmosphere. It's still something I'd personally remove as they're already able to convey many emotions just with their musicality and it's frankly a bit grating. It's a personal thing, really, someone might like what they done with this. Nonetheless, that's the only negative thing I have to point out about as it's very strong otherwise.

From what I said, it's safe to imply that the material present here is quite slow but they keep things interesting with a lot of dynamism and many atmosphere variations like some super heavy riffing and slow moments full of shadows. While it's obviously a “technical” band and there's no shred or the likes, the musicians all subtly shine. The drums are a mix of some blastbeats and more traditional percussions while the bass (sometimes noisy and thundering) is apt at filling the void when the two guitars are at their softest. The guitars are really great when they play with textures and try their hand at atmospheric post rock and the likes. There's also some supplementary instruments like cello and piano (listen to “Memoirs” and they add a welcome classical background to the music.

A Palpable Sense of Love & Loss (that's a mouthful) is excellent at mixing moods, the despair is present in both the doom/death metal attacks and their reflective and rich side. Their lyrics are poetic and melancholic with an added sense of dread and sorrow to them as we could expect from a band evolving in those genres but it's totally evocative and romantically somber.

The band sounds more like something found in Northern Europe than a bunch of dudes from the Los Angeles area. They channel their aggression in a classy, solemn manner unlike the Bay Area thrash metal, that's for sure. Highly recommended. 

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