Review Summary: Bombastic, vivid and aggressive, Immersion vows to shout loud enough to be heard by everyone.
After In Silico, probably most people have thought Pendulum were heading in a different direction that would ultimately cut through their fanbase like butter. It is to say that the group was aiming to try something new and prove to be original not just in the field of drum and bass, where they have revealed their superb signs of creativity immediately on their debut. But why even label their music in the first place? Does it sound better if you call it dubstep or electro rock? Their third effort, Immersion, seems to highlight these questions and it's up to their listeners to find an answer.
Immersion is probably Pendulum's most approachable album to date. Whether you were complaining that Hold Your Colour's beats were too fast or In Silico's guitars are overused, you have got to agree that here you have the best of both worlds and possibly even more. With songs such as "Salt In The Wounds", an epic blast-off to the record, far superior to "Slam", and "Immunize", using Pendulum's signature sound that invited even Prodigy extraordinaire Liam Howlett, the band are not focusing on relighting the flame of their magical debut. Much rather they are concentrating on how to make serious progress without losing too much of their early days' style. And even though some parts lead to at least half a step backwards through the monotone and repetitive synths, the signs of effort are still there.
Pretty much the same can be said for "The Island Part I", a seemingly typical electro house song at first, that suddenly skips to its continuation and enters a different universe that sounds faster and stronger. Although, instead of dividing the track, perhaps Pendulum shouldv have considered them being connected and shortened instead of extending the second part more than necessary by repeating the same parts over and over? Would've sounded more original and could have left room for an additional song. Other than that, nothing wrong here, please carry on.
In an attempt of attracting a larger audience, Pendulum might have both succeeded and failed at the same time. I am sure there is a vast majority out there, that simply cannot swallow the fact that In Flames make a shocking appearance on a drum and bass album. Yet, "Self Vs. Self" does nothing else than prove that both parties were quite eager to synchronize two different genres with the result having absolutely no chance of falling under the label hammer. (with the obvious exception of "The-most-in-your-face-song-on-the-album") "The Fountain", however, the third and final collaboration, doesn't seem to enjoy that effect. Indeed, Wilson's vocals are more than appropriate for the song, but other than that, it adds nothing to the idea of what a great fusion progressive rock and electronica could have been achieved. But perhaps the attempt with the death metal all-stars was quite enough for some.
In terms of lyrics, Swire was more creative on the second album. On "Witchcraft", the intro vocals and the words are just thrown out there and sound cornier than ever. However, the song becomes quite superb when the first verse fades in. The same goes for "Watercolour", an effort to somehow mix "Propane Nightmares" with their new ideas that leads to pure mainstream attention but nothing more. It is not weak, but the album could've been shelved without it.
Production-wise, Immersion is top-notch. Whether you were lacking a few bass parts in In Silico, or the sound just wasn't mastered enough on Hold Your Colour, here it sounds crystal clear and reflects the progress made by Rob Swire as a record producer, which is a definite plus for the album itself.
Although I would like to think that Pendulum's Immersion is the band's most ingenious album to date, I am mistaken. Some will most definitely argue against me, but the repetitiveness of a few songs just destroys the flow of the record. Had Pendulum mixed it up a bit on a few tracks, added a more epic ending rather than the dull "Encoder", re-written some lyrics, Immersion would have been in a whole different league. By no means am I calling it a weak, but it's nothing extraordinary either. It's bombastic, vivid and aggresive, striving to shout loud enough to be heard by everyone. Unfortunately, not quite everyone is listening.