PANDEMMY: Subversive Need
Release year: 2021
Label: Big Bad Wolf Records/Headbangerz Records
What’s in a name, eh? Obviously, the name of an artist will most often be the first impression the potential listener gets, and as such, the wrong name might turn away new fans before the band gets even a second’s chance to musically convince them.
This is exactly what was about to happen to me with Brazilian Pandemmy. Their name sounds like something from a child’s rhyme, or maybe some bad guy from some really cheesy, stupid horror movie. Either way, it didn’t sound like the kind of name I’d pin on a death metal artist worth my time. But nonetheless, I did give the Brazilian quarter the time of day. And, well, at least they’re not a children’s rhyme put to growling…
So, death metal is the name of the game here. To be more precise, a rather modern take on US-tinged brutal death metal with elements from thrash metal, hardcore and maybe even a touch of metalcore here and there. This results in a mixture that may well turn out to be a bit too much of a mixed bag for boneheaded fans of traditional death metal, as Subversive Need finds itself reaching out in many directions, and occasionally loses itself in this.
The basic foundation is, unquestionably, death metal. That’s where Pandemmy begins, and where they ultimately end back up in, mixing together elements from more technical leanings with brutal tendencies. However, in between their US-tinged take on the genre, there’s riffage that wouldn’t sound out of place in one of those In Flames influenced bands who’re even more melodic and less heavy; gang choruses that are pure hardcore; and the occasional nod towards modern thrash metal. To Pandemmy’s credit, they do manage to mold something stylewise coherent out of this – the Brazilians don’t sound like they’re in the middle of some identity crisis. However, sometimes the songwriting itself ends up feeling like it’s going nowhere.
Add to this concoction the group’s socially and politically conscious lyrics, and you just might have a band that ticks too many wrong boxes for traditional deathsters seeking out just more Satan, guts ‘n’ gore. But on the other hand, a band that ticks enough of right boxes for people looking for something that’s planted it’s feet in tradition but is still modern.
For “modern” is without doubt a very apt descriptor for Pandemmy. The individual building blocks may not be anything too extraordinarily original or forward-thinking, but the way they’ve assembled their musical Legos is decidedly of this day, without hints of retro or old school. This sounds slick, even polished, in the sense that old school isn’t and modern is – and not necessarily as a compliment to the latter.
In the end, where Pandemmy fail at least for me, is that in reaching out in so many directions, Subversive Need ends up being a bit too much of a mixed bag stylewise to impress compositionally. There’s good stuff here, very certainly so, but even after more than half a dozen listens I’m unable to name a single track that would’ve impressed me. One of the problems, which I’ve already alluded to, is that sometimes the songs seem to end up going nowhere in combining different elements. And so, despite good some moments here and there, Pandemmy’s modern death metal goes in from one ear, and straight out of the other.