Bloody Panda's Summon
was released to almost unanimously positive reviews last year, and it's easy to see why: would anyone except the most fervent admirers of the underground doom metal scene bother listening to a band called "Bloody Panda"? Okay, maybe that's giving the band less credit than they deserve: to be fair, Summon
is a pretty consistently engaging and delectably bleak metal release--one that managed to sway a skeptical listener like me. Though I wouldn't consider myself a "doom metal aficionado", I leapt up at the chance to listen to this album (presented to me by good friend and school librarian Benjamin Moss), more out of pure curiosity than anything else.
And, you guessed it, I was indeed pleasantly surprised. It's not as if the album presented something radically different than what I expected. Crushing riffs and tortured vocals had, after all, been a staple of what little doom metal I had listened to prior. Still, in spite of all the ridiculous aspects--the band name, the juxtaposition of a petite female vocalist with a bunch of dudes in robes, the deliberately "avant-garde" album cover, etc.--that surrounded it, it simply worked
. For a band that seems to want you to not take it seriously, these New Yorkers have done a pretty great job of convincing you that this music was the result of total involvement in their own dark world.
This great strength, however, also acts as Summon
's greatest flaw--it doesn't let up on a concept and aesthetic that will only appeal to a small group. This is why Bloody Panda may never reach a larger audience than their underground fanbase; only a small percentage of people will bother listening to the thing, and even those who do may find it difficult to listen to the whole thing. Especially with tracks like the 21-minute "Miserere", Summon
can be a little too unrelenting and is best listened to in small segments--anything else might cause sudden antisocial or grim behavior.