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Pander - Fierce Self

Fierce Self
by Danny Sanderson at 12 April 2016, 4:51 AM

Stoner Rock and Metal has a tendency to produce long, sprawling tracks with a very relaxed, almost serene tone to them at points. In this regard, PANDER are not your typical Stoner Rock band; their music is much harsher and driven in both musicianship and tone than your average Reefer appreciating Riff lords. And this is what makes this small band from De Walden in the Netherlands so interesting to listen to; they don't go with the flow and instead carve out their own style, which at points sound far closer to Sludge than Stoner Rock. For evidence of this, look no further than their debut full length record, "Fierce Self".

"At the Shore" is an incredibly dense, sludgy track made up of chunky, tar-like rhythms, hook-laden leads and powerful, soaring vocals. It's a dark statement of intent that sets the tone for the rest of the record, sucking the listener into the music immediately. "Witchcraft" bursts out of the speakers almost at a gallop, with charging, intense riffs being the focal point for this track. It's a really solid piece of confidently played Stoner Rock with a hint of dirty, crushing Sludge Metal that persists throughout. "Korea", the albums third offering, is a much faster, more aggressive affair than the two songs that precede it, but it doesn't sacrifice any of its heaviness and morose tone. This song has a much more vicious edge to it, and all of the musicianship and vocal performances are characterised by a sense of genuine emotional venom. It's a very atmospheric track as well, which makes it, overall, a lot more compelling. The atmospheric qualities that mark the end of this song lead the listener seamlessly into the following track, "Leave"; this is another great song that continues in very much the same vein as its predecessor. It's got some really energetic guitar and drum lines, and some great, impassioned vocal performances. It's short, straight to the point, and it sets the bar that much higher for the rest of the album to surpass. Next, there comes the albums titular track, "Fierce Self". Initially, it's a very eerie track, but it quickly shifts into a much more monolithic, robust sound made up of full, impenetrable guitars, juggernaut drumming and haunting vocals. To put it succinctly, this track is, as the title suggests, "fierce".

The next half of this record begins with "Anxiety", perhaps the closest thing on this record to conventional Stoner Rock. The sound is much lighter than the songs that have come before it, although it is still a fairly grim and heavy affair. The music surges forward at an intense, focused pace, and the vocals on this particular track are easily some of the best you will find on this album. This is quickly followed by "Golden Sun", an impressively meaty track with a substantial sound and crunching tone. Infectious hooks are peppered liberally throughout, and it is these that make this one of the stand out tracks on this record. The second to last track on here, "The Light", is a fast, potent piece of music, imbued with Punk and Hard Rock swagger that it is hard not to admire and appreciate. It's got everything you could want from a decent Stoner track; killer riffs, a throbbing Bass line, and a deep, swampy tone that makes all of the music sound amazing. It's a great way to set the listener up for the final song, and the albums crowning jewel, "Preaching". This one track contains some of this albums defining vocal and guitar parts, and is the undisputed peak of this albums creativity. it's an excellent way to finish this record.

This is a very solid, impressive debut full length. The musicianship is great, and complimented well by the great production and atmosphere on all the tracks. If I have any criticism at all, it is that the band need to be more adventurous and liberal with their use of guitar hooks. This is the defining aspect of any great Stoner Rock band, and unfortunately there are a few songs on here that are lacking in this department. Nonetheless, if you want to hear something dark, intense and groovy, then this is a great album, and band, to check out.

4 Star Rating

1. At The Shore
2. Witchcraft
3. Korea
4. Leave
5. Fierce Self
6. Anxiety
7. Golden Sun
8. The Light
9. Preaching
Remmie- Bass
Peter- Drums
Andre- Guitars
Meindert- Vocals, Guitars
Record Label: Big Bad Wolf Records


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Edited 04 February 2023

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