Pandaemonium – The Last Prayer
The Last Prayer
After reading a few good reviews of Pandaemonium’s past work, I felt that I was prepared for The Last Prayer, the band’s third full length release. Judging by the band’s back catalogue, it takes them a good while to squeeze something out. The band’s 1996 demo was followed three years later by 1999’s …And The Runes Began To Pray, and it wasn’t until 2005 that Return To Reality saw the light of day. Now, seven years after their last effort, anyone who is into the band has clearly been waiting more than long enough for some fresh material.
I was expecting fairly standard Italian power metal fare, and that’s precisely what I received. Balancing rather competent soft musical sections (particularly classical piano and acoustic guitar) with mid-high tempo double bass sections, Pandaemonium has an unremarkable cookie-cutter style of power metal that left me snoozing a bit. “Today” provided a bit of an eye-opener, with some more adventurous songwriting and riffing, but it was one of the few such points on an album that, after the first few tracks, began to drag considerably.
Part of the explanation for this is the vocals. On every song, in every way, the singing on The Last Prayer is completely and totally underwhelming. Daniel Reda is one of “those Italian power metal singers”, boasting little more than a thin, whiny-sounding wail most of the time. In addition, his pronunciation is middling to poor, and his command of the English language tenuous. Honestly, the backing male vocals are often better, and I don’t know if these are also done by Reda or not. The supplemental female vocals are provided by someone who sounds like she was plucked from an amateur church choir, and when they occur in tandem with Reda, the clash is somewhat painful. Finally, the few harsh vocals that are featured here and there are absolutely pathetic, sounding like a gravelly gurgle that offers no aggression whatsoever.
Instrumentally, this album is tame, but not bad. Quite redundant in places, there are a few reprieves (like the guitar solo in “Go Your Own Way”) that offer a few scant head-bobs in what is otherwise a sleep-inducing sea of sound. Seriously, don’t listen to this album when driving across the Great Plains on the interstate, or you’ll most definitely wind up in a ditch.
The fellows in Pandaemonium are likely doing what they love to do, with a group of fellow musicians (though I use that term somewhat tentatively wherever any vocals are concerned) that they get along well with, but I just can’t get into this. Heck, maybe I’m biased because Frederico Ria of Skylark is featured on drums, but I don’t think so. Perhaps previous efforts were considerably better than The Last Prayer, but this album is completely unremarkable except for its rather poor vocal work. Maybe for Italians, this sort of thing is passable, but I’d just be embarrassed by something this boring and vocally sloppy. Just about everyone but the completist like myself should pass this one up, it’s not worthy of fifty minutes of your hard-spent listening time.
Dan’s Rating: 2.0 out of 5