Pendulum – Immersion (2010, Warner Music)

Posted: June 4, 2010 by Ferg in Album Reviews
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Pendulum broke onto the music scene a few years ago with a drum n bass sound that crossed over to rock clubs. Slam became a massive club hit, Tarantula soon followed and then mixes like Bacteria and Blood Sugar brought some hope that the music industry had a new Prodigy on our hands. In Silico followed, with a more rock approach – more guitars, less synth, less appeal to the drum and bass crowd but a creation of a good fanbase amongst rock fans.

So what of Immersion, their third release? I’d heard it would follow along the same path as In Silico, then I saw a 15 track playlist featuring Liam Howlett of Prodigy fame (producing ‘Immunize’), prog-rock hero Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree fame (vocals on The Fountain) and a collaboration with metal band In Flames (Self Vs Self). Talk about experimental.

You can hear Howlett’s influence on Immunize: it’s reminiscent of The Fat of the Land, or the Pendulum remix of Voodoo People I put on my summer playlist. Self Vs Self is a powerful metal track, and surprised me in how well the two bands blended together. As for The Fountain, it’s very close to some of the music from In Silico, but just adds a different dimension with Wilson’s lyrics.

As for the rest of the album…15 tracks was probably too many. This isn’t to say there aren’t some brilliant tracks, and die-hards will be pleased to hear that there’s not only a return to Hold Your Colour, but also some experiments with dubstep (see Set Me On Fire). The leading single, Watercolour, is a solid track, a good single, but merely whets the appetite for the rest of the album, as a good single should (you can find Watercolour on our Songs of 2010 playlist). Crush is a blistering track, which has been compared in some quarters to nu-metal heroes Linkin Park. Not sure about that – it’s definitely Pendulum, and their own brand of rock, like Propane Nightmares is. Comprachios sees an attempt at industrial drum n bass, but just sounds like…well, industrial music – Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails, and so on. That’s not to say it’s bad – it’s brave, interesting, and actually…pretty good.

Some tracks just weren’t necessary though. I have two in mind – the conceptual Island (Dawn and Dusk), which while…actually, no, it’s not even…it’s a bit rubbish to be honest. It sounds like that thing Sophie Ellis Bextor did with Spooner remixed by an overexcited teenager. Take that out, and you’ve got a brilliant album, but those additional 9 and a half minutes are a bit pointless.

Overall, it’s a brave album, Pendulum seem to be trying to find their feet, their niche, the direction they want to take. This really does seem like an experimental album, and the majority of it works. I’d be surprised if we see this level of experimentation again, but Pendulum have proved they’re a very versatile group – they experiment with drum n bass, rock, metal, dubstep and industrial and it all works pretty well. As Watercolour is a good preview track for Immersion, Immersion ought to be a good preview album for what this ever-surprising British-Aussie group do next.

4/5

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