If my glowing reviews of the likes of Vader, Azarath, Iperyt, Mgla and Stillborn haven’t already blatantly spelled it out for you, I love me some Polish metal. It seems that the country simply isn’t capable of producing a bad band, or if they are then I have yet to encounter one.
Enter Pandemonium, another excellent Polish band that’s been kicking around the underground since 1990. Last year’s Misanthropy is their fourth full length, and yet somehow I was totally unaware of them until the mighty Godz of War Productions sent me their 2010 Promo single, followed by the album itself. The band plays a hybrid black/death metal style that recalls some of their more well-known countrymen, yet they exhibit a craftsmanship and potency that’s surely theirs and theirs alone.
It’s evident from the get-go that Pandemonium worships at the altar of the almighty riff. Every song on Misanthropy is brimming with headbang-inducing guitar-work, and even if it’s your first time hearing Pandemonium, it is readily apparent that this is the work of a seasoned band. Guitarists Mark and Paul (no last names given) work in tandem to make each song memorable, whether blazing through a scathing tremolo-run, letting off the gas for a crushing breakdown or tossing in a Middle Eastern-flavored lick that comes off like a more blackened Nile. These guys know their way around the ol’ six-six-six-string, and it makes Misanthropy an absolute joy to listen to, the perfect antidote to riffless caverncore mush.
In addition to creating memorable riffs, Pandemonium also excels in the vocal department; Paul’s positively possessed performance is indeed one of the album’s many highlights. Not keen to stick to the typical death metal growl or black metal rasp, the singer employs a wide array of bellows, screams, shrieks, whispers and even some throat singing that recalls Attila Csihar. There is some occasional use of effects on Paul’s voice, but for the most part it’s just him going apeshit on the mic, creating a singular vocal persona well apart from the cookie-cutter black/death metal singers that have become far too common.
Misanthropy‘s other key ingredient is atmosphere. Pandemonium refer to their music as “Satanic dark metal,” and I can’t think of any better words to describe the feeling you get listening to this album. The band does an excellent job of capturing the ghastly aura of classic black metal that at the same time possesses a deathly, bulldozing burliness that’s distinctly Polish. Imagine De Mysteriis-era Mayhem culting it up with Behemoth circa Demigod and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what Pandemonium are going for here; crushing force paired with occult insidiousness for maximum devastation.
Pandemonium are battle-hardened veterans who from what I can tell have yet to receive their due. If Misanthropy is anything to go by, they’re definitely worthy of way more attention than they’re getting and I hope that you chosen few who read this will be willing to put down more recent releases in order to revisit 2012 and give these unsung elder statesmen a listen. I think you’ll be glad you did.