PANDEMONIUM - Misanthropy (PAGAN Records - CD 2012)
I think “Misanthropy” was one of the most anticipated albums on the Polish metal scene in the past few months. All in all Pandemonium is not your average band, but one, which was formed in the glorious time of early 90’s and gained a lot of respect and – I think I can say so – a cult status after several albums that were released through the years. And even despite the fact that the band didn’t avoid putting one or two less inspiring albums, they belong to the most respected Polish bands anyway. So I cannot imagine a metal maniac (at least a Polish one), who doesn’t know such releases as “Devilri”, “The Ancient Catatonia” or (Domain’s) “…Into Oblivion”. It is enough reasons, I think, to get enthusiastic about “Misanthropy”, as well as to the fact that Pandemonium seems to be stronger than ever before in their career. So, fingers crossed for the awesome music and I play the album, at the same time looking suspiciously on the cover, thinking “what the hell? Is that Batman on it or what?” hehe!!
Anyway, already the first listen proved that Pandemonium is an exceptional band and their new album was more than just engaging and killer experience. Definitely I can say that I like a lot what I’ve heard on it, especially because the band has kept their original style from one hand and from the other they evolved and introduced some elements into their music, which turned it into something awesome – and luckily it is not so controversial or annoying as the elements with which Pandemonium has broadened their style on “The Zonei” CD. The music of Pandemonium has expanded a sort of ritualistic atmosphere in many parts, something what sounds truly dark, sinister and gloomy, as well as disturbing, but at the same time it is dangerously catchy and memorable. It is the way the band leads us through their songs: it’s their composition, the way these songs are built and how Pandemonium plays the riffs… all these minor but successful details, many of which are truly original and which put the band a step forward if comparing “Misanthropy” to the previous efforts, result in a successful album.
Pandemonium gained all that (uniqueness) thanks to great, almost epic riffs, hypnotising rhythms, repetitive parts, keyboards’ interludes and... hmm, I’m quite fascinated by some of the melodic parts from “Misanthropy”, I mean they’re really capturing the essence of darkened and hateful black / death metal and sometimes I’m surprised but they even remind me Watain’s way of playing melodic riffs (even though stylistically both bands are pretty far from each other). In many ways I have a feeling that finally Pandemonium started to get rid of the shadow of Samael in the music – or at least it is not as obvious as it was in the past – and also the similarities to Christ Agony are smaller. Instead they often start to remind the best what Greece has to offer (along with their ancient mythology of course!) – and I mean their cult bands of course. Septic Flesh, Rotting Christ, Necromantia… you know them well, I hope. Some traces of these bands can be found here in the atmosphere and the music of “Misanthropy” – which, if you ask me, is great! And I don’t mean that just because Pandemonium has used the help of Androniki Skoula, a female vocalist, known from Chaostar and Septic Flesh! By the way, the use of female vocalist in Pandemonium may be the most controversial of all ideas, which the band has used on “Misanthropy”, personally though I don’t care, as long as the result is fine and in this case it turned out to be truly engaging and awesome. I especially like what they have done in (the title song) “Misanthropy” – this track really has a stunning atmosphere, one which I can even compare to Behemoth’s “Lucifer”, although Pandemonium has done way more sorrowful and epic. And there are also some more oriental, Middle-Eastern influences within Pandemonium music, but that’s something what you should be used to already (they already appeared on “Devilri” demo I think), even though I must say that Pandemonium never has broadened them so much as on “Misanthropy”.
Of course Pandemonium does not base their music fully on those experimental, avant-garde and melodic ways of playing. They do not forget about the necessary dose of aggression, which is delivered equally from death and black metal styles and composed into one, great musical monument (although, when comparing “Misanthopy” to “Hellspawn”, I must admit that Pandemonium do not fastens their music anymore, this time you won’t hear any blast beats, which is OK, as they would spoil the mood of the music too much I think). And of corpse we cannot forget about the always present doom metal traces, which are coming from the slowest and most mournful parts of the album (listen to “Necro Judas” and “Stones Are Eternal”!!!!!!!!). The opening song, which is titled “The Black Forest” is vicious and sinister blackened piece, which I dare to say has a lot in common with what Celtic Frost did on their “Monotheist” LP! But even more traces of that Frost’s album’s influence are hearable in the mentioned “Stones Are Eternal”. “God Delusion” continues this sort of playing, in most obscure of all ways, also joining together the ghastly riffing with a lot of melody and mournful atmosphere. Arghhh, really great, but forgive me, I’m not going to describe every song from “Misanthropy”. Each one of them has something great and unique to offer, so it’s better just to listen to it than read about it, right?
And an extra word should be mentioned on the vocals, which are quite diverse. Paul of course has his specific voice and way of articulation, but along with this, there are more shrieking vocal parts, almost ghoulish voices (mainly in “Necro Judas”), there’s spoken vocal part (in the title song) and of course there’s the presence of Androniki Skoula. Finally the production is also top notch, so in the end it turns out that I have nothing to complain on. I truly think that “Misanthropy” is probably the biggest achievement of Pandemonium so far and one, which may be very difficult to outdo. This is great album, I have nothing more to add. Get it, if you have some respect for yourself and give praise to these Polish legends!
Standout tracks: “Misanthropy”, “Necro Judas”, “Stones Are Eternal”, “The Black Forest”
Final rate: 87/100