Back in 2008, while watching an episode of Gamer.TV, I saw a trailer for a video game. The trailer made me very excited, because it was a trailer for the game Motorstorm: Pacific Rift for the PS3. Now, not having a PS3 at the time made it rather difficult to play the game anytime soon I admit, however I did eventually buy one and got Pacific Rift soon after. Anyway, during the trailer, there was this piece of music, a piece of music I rather liked, and worked well with the Video Game Trailer, but I had no idea who was playing or what the song was called. It was very heavy, very fast and had these lyrics which sounded very Reggae. I had no idea what it was, but I was hooked, and wanted to know more. I don’t know how I found out in the end, but I was glad I did, as this discovery took me on a musical journey that would bring me to a point, a moment when my life up till that point did not really have a favourite band; but then all of a sudden; I had one. The song was called Tarantula and the band was called PENDULUM.
Originally founded in Australia in 2002 by Ztar Z6/MIDI Controller player Rob Swire, Bassist Gareth McGrillen and DJ Paul Harding; PENDULUM, a Drum and Bass group notable for mixing hard rock and electronic music into their work, would later relocate to the UK, and set the music scene on fire quickly becoming one of the most popular bands of the moment. Soon, more band members would join in the form of MC Ben Mount, Guitarist Peredur ap Gwynedd, Drummer Paul Kodish (and later KJ Sawka). Pendulum themselves would release 3 studio albums: Hold Your Colour, In Silco and Immersion, and while originally starting with Drum and Bass roots with very little in the way of vocals, more relying on instrumental pieces, the Band would go on to include vocals, and expand their portfolio into areas including Industrial and Electronic Rock as well as other genres.
For me, I loved this band so much. I was gripped by their electronic instrument playing, mixing it with heavy/hard rock. Originally I was more in it for the rather psychedelic instrumental and electric pieces they originally started with, but as time went on became to love and enjoy their more vocal ranged pieces of music. When the band sort of disbanded back in 2010-2012, I was rather sad as I did not want this band, a band I loved to suddenly disappear, and as time went on became to get very annoyed with both Swire and McGrillen for creating Knife Party and not be Pendulum anymore. Time passed on, their music to me became nearly second-hand, and other bands took my interest, and slowly Pendulum disappeared from my heart; until recently, when supposedly the band reunited. I was excited by this, the hope that Pendulum was coming back, more albums, more music; I just could not wait for more news. While it is a bit sketchy right now as to what is going on with them, I have recently begun to get back into their music, because although they may no longer be my favourite band, they were my first and were for a good number of years. I bought all their albums, and still love a lot of their music.
A few months ago I began listening to them frequently again, and have come to realize how much I missed their music, and decided, that after a long time of planning this, that I would finally let you in on what my Top 5 Pendulum Songs are. Now coming up with this list was rather tricky; I mean there are a lot of really good songs in their portfolio. When I originally conceived this list I considered just doing a Top 5 from Hold Your Colour, an album I can still say proudly to this day, is my favourite album and not just of the band. I really like Hold Your Colour as it has a lot more enjoyable tracks, and is a lot more consistent I feel to that of their other albums (not to say that the others are bad). Over the years leading up to this post being written, I was sure that most of this list was going to come from Hold Your Colour and just that, but having looked back on their music, I can see this is no longer really the case, as my favourites sort of go over all 3 albums in the end. Bringing it down to 5 songs in the end was rather difficult, because they have made several really good pieces of music, several of which really strike into my head when I think of them. If this was a Top 10 post there would be a lot more variety, but I thought it would be best to just keep it down to 5 as much as I can. So, just for them to have a moment here, here are the songs that didn’t make it (but boy were close): Prelude, Slam, Fasten Your Seatbelt, Through The Loop, Sounds of Life, Girl in the Fire, Hold Your Colour (all from Hold Your Colour), Showdown, Different, Mutiny, Granite, Set Me on Fire and Crush. So now, introductions over, here are my Top 5 Pendulum Songs.
5. Tarantula – It was the song that brought me here in the first place, and it has remained one of my favourites since. Tarantula is a strange one when you first hear it for the first time. If you hear it while it’s fast, only for you then to hear it from the beginning, you wonder if you are listening to the same piece of music. It has the same tune yes, but it’s much slower to begin with, and it’s very striking. You hear these vocals, but you’re not sure if you are hearing them right, and feel that you don’t necessarily understand them. But then it quickly builds, and then that fast track you heard once before comes to light. The slow speed side of this track sounds more brass based than Drum and Bass, but then you realize that the slow side is merely a gift, an intro, because if you want to join in, you need to know how it goes, because when it speeds up, there is no more help. The track is heavy, vicious and ferocious, much like the creature that the song is named after. It gets your heart pounding, and makes you want to dance, a very fast dance yes, and one you will need to take a break after because of, but just does not stop until it wants to. Not you, IT! Remember that, it comes with a piece of authority, one that demands attention from everyone in the room at the same time; it gives the music a near level of sentience, being, but more importantly POWER! And one that demands to command you, you have no choice; only the possibility that when it’s all over, you may have a chance to escape!
4. Watercolour – When this one first came out, I remember seeing the music video for the first time, and sort of liking it, but got a bit tired of it due to the amount of time it was on TV for. It was not until recently I was really able to appreciate it properly. One thing that I sort of cottoned onto as time went past, is how good the vocalization is in several of these songs. Not when it is a featured artist, or when it has been ripped from a film or something, but when it is from the band themselves. There are some really nice vocal pieces, many of which get featured in this list, ones you can pick up easily, and enjoy singing yourself. This song is fast, much like many of Pendulum’s songs, but also features some nice slow, near peaceful moments prolifically too. Here we get moments of their trademark styles, mixing vocals in while both being slow and fast, many a time producing a very emotional moment, such as the lyric ‘Just stay where you are’. It is generally a nice song, not a piece of music as such, but an actual song, a song with powerful lyrics, and a gentle, but still fast track to back it up, while still allowing a moment to pause, take a breath, then get back into it.
3. Witchcraft – What has to be one of their most striking yet experimental tracks; this song mixes sweet and calm melody with hard rock electric power. As it starts you hear this calm melody which slowly builds, but within a minute the pitch and mood changes as the amazing skill of Rob Swire on his main instrument of choice comes darting out of the background and demands attention, which at the same time is backed up by the rest of the band, before all charging at once in a hard rock vibe. From this moment alone it sounds more like a piece of heavy rock, but then the lyrics kick in again, and a more light-hearted pop track takes over, and even when it goes lower in temper during the chorus, it stays relatively light, before then unleashing it’s real motives once more. Much like Watercolour, it does take a quick moment to catch its breath, in a split second of near perfect silence, before then unleashing itself once more. What is rather a weird combination of musical styles in one song, backed up with Lyrics to match its themed ideas while also providing its own little moments of respite, Witchcraft is easily one of the more lyrically stand out songs from Pendulum, which still likes to provide a moment or two to let the tune do the talking.
2. The Island (Pt 1 and Pt 2) – This may come as a confusing one to people unbeknownst to the career of Pendulum; basically this song comes in two parts. When I first bought the album, I was a little confused by that, and it was not until I listened to both for the first time that I really understood. On their own, Part 1 is nice, got some really interesting, perhaps inspiring lyrics and comes with a nice beat, while Part 2 played on its own sounds rather disjointed, out-of-place, short and feels like the end of something; not an entire piece. However, when they are played together in the correct order, something really amazing is born. Much like several lyrical pieces from Pendulum, this one comes with some really interesting and deep lyrics. These lyrics are only heard in Part 1, but that is the point with Part 1. As the tune goes, it’s more a piece about discovery and awe. The pieces together tell something of a story. It takes you on a journey, you can listen to the lyrics, or you can tell your own; but the basic idea is that you have arrived on an island, you are shipwrecked, lost, anything, but you have arrived to a mysterious place, and you walk around and discover how amazing everything is, like you have landed perhaps in a personal spot or taste of heaven. You go and explore, and you see sights and spots of beauty all around you. All this time the song beats in the background, recording its own story, all the while creating a nice bumpy/jumpy soundtrack that is generally rather pleasant and passionate. Part 2 of the song tells a very different tale and creates a very different location. It slowly descends, then it starts to play a familiar tune; you imagine yourself in full glow, on this Island, this beautiful place, and as the tune returns, you believe it’s going to be more of the same, and then: A Beast is Unleashed. Everything changes, the soundtrack is entirely different, it is still jumpy, but very heavy. It’s disjointed, no longer connected, no longer a beautiful melody, now a torrent of terror. Part 1 talked about the Dawn, now here is the Dusk, and the soundtrack creates an idea of everything going wrong, more a natural siren than an actual warning. Imagine yourself back on that island, the day has gone, and the now the night is upon you, and gone is the beauty: Now stretching before you is a nightmare, not gently arousing from slumber, but instantly waking up, and bearing down on you, unrelenting, unstoppable terror. Alone, these pieces are ok, interesting, still very enjoyable: but when played together they weave a story of Magnificence and Horror, one you will be Thrilled yet Petrified to return to.
1. Propane Nightmares – One of the things I like about PENDULUM is that while it is very pop like, quite a lot of the music they create is exceptionally heavy. That is one of the things that caught me most about them when I first listened to them, that while they were a current generation pop like band, as a fan of much heavier genres of music, I could just as easily get involved and enjoy them. Yes not all of their songs are particularly heavy, but the ones that are a special treat for me, especially when they are created by fascinating sounds and backed up with really spellbinding lyrics. When this song was originally released, I had no real place or preference for it, thought it was a little confusing with t’s opening brass section, but then I heard a live version of it, and I loved the whole experience. The music starts of near gentle like with strange usage of its brass piece, but then as it builds, as the drums kick in, and the music flies from the instruments to your ears, you begin to hear something really special. The music isn’t pleasant, it isn’t friendly: What it is, is very Angry, and very Grungy. The music uses the full force of the band, every key is crucial; each beat of the drum, each pluck of the string, each tap of the key, all of it works together, to create a rather unique sound. This sound continues in a fist hammering beat like fashion which then just continues, speaking with an authority that shouts and demands every eye and ear in the room to look directly at it. Then as the tune takes a side-line, but only for a moment, the lyrics get involved. More than any song from Pendulum, I find this is the one that I recite lyrics to, especially the early line: “In a trail of fire I know we will be free again. In the end we will be one. In a trail of fire I’ll burn before you bury me. Set your sights for the sun.” The only points that this song slows down are when the band as a whole (or as much to a whole as you can get) joins in, in singing the chorus – before then of course jumping right back into the tune we all know and love – and when the tune, like many on this list, takes a brief moment of respite. The break itself is pretty brief, and is really only to allow a cool down before jumping right back into its final charge; however, the air like sound is rather magical as it winds down to a bit, before then (in some live versions, a nice little light guitar is played, which is both gentle and peaceful), tearing at full force back into its tune. At this point, the magical air break sounds, are included in the final hill climb briefly, and then it all comes to the final push as the song comes to it’s eventual, hair ripping end. Propane Nightmares is a really weird one; while other songs in the long profile of Pendulum do different things, there is a sense of them trying to create brand new, iconic, and unique sounds, but all the while most of them do follow a similar them and style, that of a soundtrack that would suggest exploration and discovery, showing and revealing beauties beyond belief, presenting one side to paradise. Propane Nightmares does not really follow that trend, instead, it shows a much darker and louder side, not encapsulating those things, instead creating visions of potential dystopia’s, or possibly revealing another side to the real world that we currently see. In any case, whatever it seeks to achieve, it must have worked, because I absolutely love it.