Synth Album Review: "Leifendeth," Pandemic
Darkness, decay and decline. Those are the emotional sensations that Leifendeth gives off on Pandemic. This is not an EP for easy, sunny day listening. The pervasive sense of creeping dread that fills the music left me unsettled and vaguely nervous after I heard it. However, that’s rather the point of this EP which tells the story of a global pandemic and the ensuing decay of society.
As an example of horror influenced synth music, Pandemic works. All of those crunchy synths, the sonic sensation of dark voids underneath the music and chanted (or whispered) lyrics combine to produce something atmospheric and disturbing.
I’d better make it clear that I generally don’t listen to the darker side of synth, so I am outside of my comfort zone with Pandemic. However, in objectively trying to evaluate this EP, I’ve set that aside. The question I always ask myself is this: does the album do what it’s meant to do? If Leifendeth's goal was to create a voyage through a shadowed and twisted place, Pandemic fulfilled that goal admirably. As I listened to it, my mind was transported through a landscape of fear, suffering and loss.
Pandemic is not a melodic record. Things are kept sparse and heavy here. I think that when the primary goal is to create a particular mood or atmosphere, ambience and rhythm can serve better than melody. Leifendeth uses both to good effect on Pandemic to paint a desolate landscape of sounds. It won’t make you smile, but it will make you brood on the futility of existence.
The title track sets the mood instantly with drums and bass that punch you in the chest. They’re soon joined by dark, sweeping synths that have some crunch to them. The entire track gave the impression of a vast weight heaving underneath it. When the chanted lyrics come in, their message of decay and plague death is bolstered by the Stygian darkness of the backing track. The heaviness of the music only serves to enhance the despair that oozes from the lyrics.
The next track is the melodywhore remix of Lost Future. it starts out with softly drifting synths that glitch as a spoken word sample comes in. There’s a mid-tempo drum beat that creates a hypnotic sensation in the music. Everything feels subdued and restrained, but it’s shot through with a definite sense of menace. This remix has a more subtle sense of danger about it.
The Cyber Shaman remix of Lost Future puts the vocal sample at the front to start with. This remix is much harder driving and more full of aggression than the previous one. There’s elements of trance music here in the relentless beat, but everything is still enfolded in a dark embrace. I would say that there’s a sense of something seething just below the surface here.
The fact that the mute version of Pandemic lacks lyrics only serves to heighten the dark, heavy vibe of the song. If anything, it showcases Leifendeth’s ability to produce an atmosphere that is rich with a sense of darkness and impending doom. All of the qualities that I mentioned can stand alone quite well without the lyrical aspects of the song.
As a showcase of how to use music and sound to create imagery and elicit a visceral response from listeners, Pandemic does well. Leifedeth clearly has the ability to translate a particular sensation into a musical language and take his audience with him as he does so. I’m not sure I’ll be relaxing comfortably while playing this EP, but I have a feeling that I might be listening to it more than once.