PandemoniumThis is the Polish ‘dark Satanic metal’ troupe who have been going for couple of decades and who put out ‘Misanthropy’ last year. This however is a re-release of their 1994 debut full length. ‘For some reason’ is what I usually add and, in this instance that is very much needed.

These days Pandemonium are a pretty dynamic sounding dark/death metal with great atmospherics if a little too clinical drum sound. Bits of Akercocke, bits of modern death, that sort but with a lovely dollop of something all their own. Here, though, nineteen years in the past, they were a far different beast as you might expect.

Back in 1994 Celtic Frost, Darkthrone and early Paradise Lost were the order of the day with a bit of MDB chucked in around the violin that crops up. It has a sound that still sounds late eighties; a hollowed out tone, sharp guitar and slightly muddy drums combining for that slow to mid tempo Celtic Frost drag through the tar pit, and with vocals that make me want to put ‘In The Shadow Of The Horns’ on a loop. It is all a bit samey somehow, but even with that in mind this still has a charm. Tempo changes, shifts of the riff pattern, step in and out keeping the black subterranean atmosphere intact but acting like little eddies of turbulence in the darkness. Violin surges are frequent, dragging heavy on the melancholy and providing glistening bits of melody in the downbeat sound. Discordant lead runs bring in a ‘Lost Paradise’ and a ‘To Mega Therion’ sound and those deep, dark vocals keep the black metal nicely close at hand.

As a collection of songs it is a little difficult to concentrate on for long or to pull apart the different strands; but as a piece it has its charms. You can see where the current band birthed their melodic touches and their progressive approach. This is certainly a hearts and influences on their sleeves debut whilst very clearly also pointing to a distinctive identity being slowly given life. I guess if you already have ‘Misanthropy’ you would find lots of historical interest here but if you haven’t please do get their latest first, as it is obviously far more accomplished and harder hitting as well as more interesting musically.

However this is what it is and it was a very promising debut that hasn’t been wasted. For a bit of Darkthrone tinged Celtic Frost worship it is fine. As an album now, standing on its own two feet it is simply interesting.

(5/10 Gizmo)