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July 7, 2008 | by  | in Music |
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Album: Pendulum – In Silico

Pendulum’s 2005 debut Hold Your Colour was the biggest drum and bass album, ever. The trio of metalheads from Perth exploded into birth with the single ‘Vault’, which took a regular dnb beat and hit it with a swing change. Pendulum expanded this switch on ‘Another Planet’ from Hold Your Colour, which suddenly turns into ‘Dope Hat’ for a few bars.

The rock elements that Pendulum explored through timings on Hold Your Colour (which despite its experiments was very much a dance album) take up far more space on their followup In Silico. Although the title means “performed on computer or via computer simulation”, Pendulum have spread a blanket of live guitars over their electronics (courtesy of mad mulleted axeman Peredur ap Gwynedd), slowed their beats down and spiced them with some live percussion. Band leader Rob Swire uses his vocals more prominently, and has imitated the narrative progression found commonly on progressive rock albums but only rarely on dance albums. Pendulum have gone from being a rock-inspired DJing outfit to a full rock band with an electronic bassline and some synth.

Sadly, this change makes In Silico much less danceable than Hold Your Colour, and I cannot imagine any of its tracks will be bashed by every local DJ the way Hold Your Colour’s title track was back in 2006. However, the energetic burst from mariachi sounds to guitar drone to the beat’s drop in first single ‘Propane Nightmares’ is awesome to behold. The drumming variations and guitar work on ‘Mutiny’ (which reimagines element’s of Hold Your Colour’s ‘The Template’) are superbly executed, and the slow buildup to hand-waving synth on album closer ‘The Tempest’ is almost as gorgeous as ‘Hold Your Colour.’

But while the first three tracks are a burst of heavy electronic dance-rock, and the final four develop this sound to pick it apart and peer at its workings, the middle three are somewhat insipid, so that I inevitably skip them over. I would also like to plead with Swire to actually let his voice ring out without garbling effects for once. For a guy with such a sweet elf beard and a Ztar (synth in the shape of a guitar, for the sake of showing off on stage), he should have more balls when it comes to singing. Swire also overdoes the higher elements of his synth, preventing the guitars from breathing to their full potential. Nevertheless, the beats are still a lot of fun to play with, and as an attempt to combine electronic dance with hard rock, In Silico is remarkable success – satan knows there have been helluva lotta failures there. Pendulum, I salute you.

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Tristan Egarr edited in 2008. He threw a chair once.

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