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The Horrendous Pit and the Atrocious Pendulum - 98%

bayern, November 10th, 2017

They just don’t make them like this anymore… It beats me why I haven’t reviewed this gem ages ago, but had to leave it for shortly before retirement. Anyway, better late than never, and here we face this not very known outfit who even managed to board the official release wagon with two whole EP’s. One of them was the actual beginning of their short career, a brutal relentless “skull fucker” mixing thrash with the up-and-coming death metal to a shattering, apocalyptic effect reminding of Sacrifice’s debut, among other early precursors of the death metal movement.

Mere months later the guys are back on their feet for the production of one of the most memorable moments from the whole American metal kaleidoscope, the demo reviewed here. The step made in both an executional and compositional aspect is tremendous; in fact, it would be quite hard for one to recognize the same outfit behind these ultimately stylish, intricately woven soundscapes. The only reason why this effort isn’t prominently featured on the “most essential listens” list is that it was released in 1990 when the technical/progressive metal wave had reached its zenith in The States and elsewhere, and the guys already had plenty of models to follow if they wanted to.

Not that it matters much when the music is so compelling, and “Sardonic Wrath” enters the listener’s aural space without any further ado with a portion of virtuous bassisms first, and later with some of the most hectic, tossed and stirred, riff “salads” this side of Atheist’s “Piece of Time” and Nasty Savage’s “Penetration Point”; twisted melodies ala Demilich and Nomicon, before those two acts had ever thought about them, rise out of nowhere to assist this outlandish musical carnival, the guys effortlessly juggling through weird time-signatures with superb melodic leads making their healthy contribution to this most exemplary showdown that even manages to sneak a few more linear headbanging passages.

A sheer feast for the ears that has only started, and the title-track wastes no time luring the fan deeper into the band’s Wayne’s… sorry, weird world with an influx of gorgeous dramatic melodies which pour over the overwhelmed listener from the get-go; the latter will be squashed by the aggressive gallops, the guitars and the bass riding the winds of technical thrash hand in hand, participating in arguably the finest intricate vortex from the US underground mid-way before the leads silence even the most sceptical with their Shrapnel-like virtuosity. “Crown of Thorns” is a masterpiece of thought-out progressive thrash, an 8-min, nearly all-instrumental, behemoth which relies on more gallops initially until labyrinthine rifforamas start getting formed left and right, the guitar wizardry carrying on unabated on the supreme balladic interlude; expect fast-paced “skirmishes” to stir the moshpit although this is mosh of the more sophisticated, more elaborate variety as downpours of technical riffage keep coming, this unparalleled shredfest interrupted by the singer whose not very expressive semi-declamatory semi-shouts could be considered the only unmitigated flaw on this no-brainer which ends in a more linear fashion with the short thrash/crossover uplifter “Suck Doom”, an intense chaotic epitaph that sees the lead guitarist making another fine showing to spice the wild, charmingly dishevelled proceedings.

The slightly muddy sound quality is not really a big issue as the immaculately executed music simply sweeps all possible hindrances away, the band exhibiting beaming confidence in their skills, dexterously stitching these multi-layered numbers which don’t miss out on a single ingredient: there’s technicality aplenty, there’s melody, there’s aggression, there’s nearly infernal complexity at play making the underground almost as attractive as the mainstream, with other talented outfits like Technakill, Terror, Salem Spade, Sylence, Uglor, Savage Choir, etc. doing a great job, too, in complicating the environment to dizzying proportions. Pendulum were right up on the front of this fascinating movement, swaying to and fro in a leisurely, somewhat careless manner…

But that didn’t mean that they weren’t up and ready for at least one more showing, and the “Vlad the Impaler” EP was another supreme exhibition of technical mastery the three tracks featured on it a logical sequel to the material here. The pendulum had to keep swaying with or without the help of vampires or immortalized Romanian rulers since it was producing some of the finest moments of the American metal arena. And it did sway one last time, for the split with the guys’ compatriots, the thrashers Spectre in 1992, the two songs on it partially betraying the technical exuberance of the band’s last two instalments, but still providing a fitting, distinguished epitaph to a short, but utterly compelling journey. The 90’s groovy pit couldn’t claim them… and it was definitely for the better cause with so much intricate dissipation said pit may have been remembered as just a passing breeze.