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Pandemonium – Monuments of Tragedy

Monuments of Tragedy
by Santiago Puyol at 13 August 2019, 9:07 PM

With three albums already in the bag, Swedish Symphonic Blackened Death Metal band PANDEMONIUM is releasing their fourth record "Monuments of Tragedy" on August 30th, 2019. "Monuments" comes a long 11 years after "Whispers", bearing high expectations from fans of the band. PANDEMONIUM certainly does not disappoint with this release.

"And Death Was the Way" is an excellent opener, revealing the mood the rest of the album adopts. Dramatic and energetic, with as much theatricality as heaviness, the band moves at an accelerated pace while synthesizers provide symphonic arrangements. If this kind of music had to be nicknamed, at its most dramatic moments "Tim Burton Death Metal" would suit it well.

Synthesizers are in the front row here, assuming a key role while not exactly being the main focus. PANDEMONIUM's sense of drama would not be complete without the atmospheres created by keyboard arrangements, sometimes playful and creepy ("In Search for Euthanasia", "Under the Banner of the Blood-red Sun"), sometimes in a melancholic and nostalgic line (single "Necromania Unleashed", aptly titled closer "The Only Catharsis").

Jacob Blecher's work behind the drum kit stands out throughout the album, demonstrating his ability to maintain a frantic rhythm without losing control and without drowning songs in blast beats when they do not require it. Songs like "Effacing the Decadence" or "Severance of Unity" show how brutal his style is, and at the same time allow him to slide into a more relaxed groove when the songwriting calls for it.

With its electronic percussion and an interesting vocal interplay, "The Code" stands out for taking a path more influenced by Industrial Metal. In its most catchy moments, it comes close to something that Trent Reznor would have written for NINE INCH NAILS on the nineties, just considerably more aggressive. Johan Bergström allows himself to alternate between passages of clean but effect-laden vocals and passages with growls and screams.

"Under the Banner of the Blood-red Sun" and "Under a Cold Stone" are an excellent pre-closer combo. Folk sonorities sneak into the composition, introduced through electric piano lines. Pandemonium also evokes the theatrical and performative style of Classic Metal bands here, even if they don't sound similar. It is the essence of the songs, not the sound that resembles 70s and 80s Metal bands. There is also an OPETH-like passage in "Under a Cold Stone", midway through the song.

Closer "The Only Catharsis" takes its time to give a proper finale to "Monuments of Tragedy", with an epic feel, building towards an emotional and dramatic ending. The symphonic arrangements are more reminiscent of 70s Progressive Rock here, living up to its title with a cathartic effect.

Pandemonium offer an interesting and enjoyable album in "Monuments of Tragedy". It’s a solid album that never gets dull even though several songs run around or are longer than six minutes. Production is an aspect that could be improved, particularly because Johan Aldgård's bass is hardly heard. Bergström's vocals also get lost in the mix at times. Nevertheless, it sounds quite appropriate for the style overall.

Songwriting: 7
Originality: 7
Memorability: 7
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

1. And Death Was the Way
2. Effacing the Decadence
3. In Search for Euthanasia
4. Necromania Unleashed
5. The Code
6. A Therapy in Blood
7. Severance of Unity
8. Under the Banner of the Blood-Red Sun
9. Under a Cold Stone
10. The Only Catharsis
Johan Bergström – Vocals
Thomas Ahlgren – Guitar
Johan Aldgård – Bass
Jacob Blecher – Drums
Record Label: Black Lodge Records


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