It's extremely hard to listen to Immersion and not compare it to Pendulum's epic Hold Your Colour, the world's best selling Drum n Bass album of all time. Not because long-time fans and newcomers alike were dying to hear how Pendulum have developed their sound in 2010, but because the similarities between the two are manifold.
I had to listen to this album about 5 times before I really got into it, and after that I couldn't stop listening to it. The similarities abound, from an intro that has almost the exact same feel to their debut's, to an opening track that could very well be a remix / combination of Slam and Fasten Your Seatbelt, easily the two best tracks on Pendulum's 2005 album – everything from the tone of the lead synth to the key structure and breakdown immediately scream these two tracks at you. But as you progress further into the album it is exactly this aspect of the music – basically lifting things from Colour and updating them - that makes this release so tantalisingly good.
5 years have passed between the two albums, and what that has done is basically turn Immersion into a re-imagining of Hold Your Colour, as if the boys from Perth simply pushed their first album out of their minds completely and, in laying down some new tracks completely ignored any notion that they may be re-hashing old material. The album stands tall and proud as a poetic statement as if it were Pendulum's first unveiling upon the world. This gives it a very fresh, exciting and “shiny new” feel. This time 'round, armed with a noticeably more powerful arsenal of breaks and grooves, the re-imagining ends up being rock solid by simply taking what has been done before and improving on it.
This is what a large part of music is all about. Without Howlin' Wolf there would be no Rolling Stones, and without With The Beatles there would be no Abbey Road. Emulation and building on solid foundations are what make great albums great, and this album is great. Cliched loops, overuse of the amen break and floating vocals were all there on Pendulum's first album; Immersion merely extrapolates these, adding a few flairs like Dubstep and Tech-House ramblings to the familiar bass-lines, synth melodies and drums that are unmistakably “The Sound Of Pendulum”, whilst constantly keeping you intensely engaged with intriguing side-steps, breakdowns and sharp corners.
Simply put, Hold Your Colour is a 5 star, outstanding album, but if I were on a desert island and had to choose between it and Immersion, it would be the latter without question.
Available from CD stores, iTunes, etc. through Warner.