Review: Pendulum - Hold Your Colour

(Originally posted: November 8, 2018)

Try the whole album, but here's a starting point:

It's hard to overstate. Take a kid with anger issues and get him some medicine. Who knew music could sound like this? I only found out when I copied the folder off the kid's brick of a hard drive. ParagonX9 on steroids.

Trance makes you reach for the heavens. Drum N Bass takes you on a private 747. The kick and snare drums pummel you forward and the Earth wobbles beneath. Impossibly fast but it becomes normal. Eventually there's nothing left to hold but the bar, kick snare, kicksnare. Inertia. Still unsubtle but you learn some taste eventually: reggae, jazz, atmospherics, play. Sample your lawnmower.

It's masochistic stuff. Runs parallel with metal. Jazz instead of folk. But more quantized, mechanical. Less screaming, more noise. There was a person, now there's nothing. Straight energy rush. Action and intensity. Sexuality replaced with aggression and romanticism. Smash the walls of your room into a beautiful image. Paint it whatever color you like. Add some weights for good measure.

Pendulum did something unprecedented: they mixed Drum N Bass with mid 2000s pop sensibilities. Obviously "The Underground" hated them: this is precision music, no place for a boy band! But they begrudgingly acknowledged Pendulum's technical prowess: shit rips. Go to a DNB event now. Odds are, any guy under 30 found their way through Hold Your Colour. Gateway drug. It opened the door wide enough to peer inside. Then you fell into DNB Narnia and never climbed back out. This isolates you a bit. Maybe forever. Or maybe you were isolated anyway and that's why you came.

I dove right in. Forums and all. I trolled Dogs On Acid. All that teenage synth play? I just wanted the Noisia reese (slang for that growling bassline). All that ambient music? I just wanted those textures. But ambient music is destined to fail. The air's most still after a thunderstorm, and only Drum N Bass can do what Drum N Bass does.

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