Pandemix are new to me, and they’re difficult to sum up in just a few words. That’s a complement. It’s punk by genre, but a few subgenre adjectives aren’t going to capture the band. In Condemnation isn’t exactly complex (we’re talking punk rock here), but it’s diverse in subtle ways that keep the energy level high and fresh as it shreds through 10 tracks in 28 minutes.
There’s a 1980s bluntness, along with vocalist Shannon Thompson’s general style that’s a speak-sing-shout with vitriol, spite and, yes, condemnation. But the music is far from the predictable verse-chorus-verse singalong where you know the words on first listen. The lyrics tell a story instead of a catchphrase and the music builds up and shifts gears accordingly. The guitars here are as much The Jesus Lizard as they are Black Flag.
Those unpredictable turns give extra power throughout. “No Monuments” sets the tone early. After a brief intro, a heavy beat segues into fierce aggression with a few breathers interspersed before a hellacious breakdown kicks it into overdrive to finish. That energy transfers in “Can’t Assimilate,” one of many standouts on the record, which is a little more chord-heavy but with some quick change-of-direction moments that keep it from feeling repetitive. I guess a recurring theme would be that when the storytelling element needs a break the band goes into full circle-pit mode. The tonal breaks in “Synthetix” recall Subhumans UK or Crass and the rapid-fire delivery of “Downward Trend” is frantic-on-the-verge-of-manic. The drums really keep it all together, seamlessly shifting gears when needed. It all culminates at the close with “Column of Light,” spitting a breathy and urgent declaration that, “May every breath/ I ever draw/ be used in condemnation.”
You’ll notice I’m namedropping a lot of classics here. The sound is rooted there, but the modern production captures its raw energy and sounds both live, yet professional. The backing vocals in “Oblivion Lullabies” have shades of turn-of-the-millennia hardcore. While I keep talking ‘80s bands, much of the early hardcore groups for me grow stagnant after a while because of the redundancy. There is so much variety within In Condemnation, yet it’s cohesive and subtle without losing its tone or its own voice. I’m already excited to hear more from the band.