Over the years, a plethora of artists have set out to create a fusion of dance and rock music with varying results, and Australia’s Pendulum certainly sit near the top of the pack. Having started life as drum ’n’ bass DJs, the unit increasingly incorporated live instruments in their shows and recordings, and with 2008’s In Silico they delivered an album that was a beat-driven, riff-laden rush of adrenaline from start to finish. Immersion sees the band further building upon these foundations, and it is arguably their most accomplished release to date, pulsating with electronic intensity while boasting an impressive variety of tones and styles, genuinely blurring the lines between genres.
If you’re looking for straight-up dance-floor fillers then “Salt In The Wounds,” “The Vulture” and “Immunize” (which features the Prodigy’s Liam Howlett) deliver the goods with style, proving that they can still cause chaos with the best of them. However, if you’re looking for something more song-oriented, “Watercolour” and “Crush” capture the band at their most anthemic, huge hooks and even bigger choruses arriving on the backs of monster grooves, while even the comparatively dirge-like “Set Me On Fire” is utterly engaging.
Showing an impressive savvy in inviting perhaps unlikely artists to collaborate with them also leads to some of the record’s highlights. Steven Wilson of British progressive rockers Porcupine Tree gives the gorgeous surge of “The Fountain” an added ethereality, while “Self Vs Self” is a full-on collision between the Australians and Swedish metal crew In Flames. The Swedes’ trademark snarling riffs are crushing, while the acid-ravaged roar of vocalist Anders Friden stands as a perfect counterpoint to the smooth tones of Pendulum vocalist Rob Swire, and it is perhaps with this track more than any other that they create a genuine hybrid of sounds, the song existing in its own realm.
With the majority of the 15 tracks holding their own, perhaps best is the album’s centerpiece, “The Island – Pt.1 (Dawn)” and “The Island – Pt. 2 (Dusk).” Built upon the same swirling central melody, the former is an atmospheric, trance-flavored anthem, while the latter sees them dive headlong into white-knuckle drum ’n’ bass territory. Taken together, they are utterly stunning, two sides of the same coin working in perfect synchronization. Closing the album out with “Encoder”—the climax of which sees a gorgeously uplifting melody rise up from nowhere—it’s hard to resist throwing yourself straight back into their frantic, exhilarating world, and with each repeated listen more and more is revealed.