Master Massive - The Pendulum (Vicisolum Productions)

An ambitious concept album that nearly collapses under it's own weight...
Release Date: 
29 May 2015 (All day)

The Pendulum, described in a roundabout way by Sweden's Master Massive themselves as a ‘seventies rock concept album with eighties metal orchestration’ is something of a conundrum for the casual listener; When it’s good, as it is on tracks such as Time out of Mind, Eye of Silence and The Media Palace, it is very good indeed, conjuring up sonic images of the early-eighties glory days of trad metal; But at other times, like many concept album I guess, the narrative drags, taking the quality of the music down with it. This leads to little ten minute patches of ennui occurring too often for comfort. 

To tell the story in full takes seventeen tracks (although four of these are scene-linking short instrumental pieces), and that’s just too much to take in for people not particularly interested in what’s going on in the libretto. Long pieces like Hymn to the Yellowhawk, though doubtless integral to the framework of the piece, just drag, coming off like a second-rate Manowar and generally besmirching the good work that’s gone on before, so perhaps it’s best at this point to accentuate some of the positives, most notably the singing of Jan Strandh – the man puts in an exemplary performance of metal singing throughout – or the bass work of Max Warnby, whose deliciously fluid playing on Eye of Silence is an absolute joy to listen to.

For those interested, the story follows a time-traveling everyman protagonist created to portray the little people against whom life always seems to be irreparably loaded, as he journeys from twelfth century Europe to the present day in search of some sort of justice for those people, in the process ensuring the safe continuation of life on earth at the expense of the shape-shifting lizards who control us all and the destruction of their military-industrial complex. Or something. I swear, it’s just a little bit too convoluted for a simple brain like mine to process.

Some good bits then, some not quite so edifying, but I’d definitely like to see Master Massive continuing in this musical vein in the future, if not releasing another concept album.