Let me cut to the chase: Zwischenwelt is a boring record. A really boring record. There’s no use to burying the lead or trying to lampshade the Snorlax in the room, you’ll probably figure it out after the sample track anyway. Pentarium‘s 2016 debut Schwarzmaler – a decade’s worth of work distilled into fifty minutes of weapons-grade Ambien – should have been warning enough. While Zwischenwelt is nominally improved, it’s still the latest warm bottle of milk to come out of continental Europe’s tepid melodeath scene. You know how this ends, so scroll to the bottom if you wish, but you know you’ve got nothing better to do than fight off a nap with me. If you’re still around, flip on that sample track, stifle that yawn, and snuggle up. First one to fall asleep gets their hand dipped in water.
Where to start, where to start. The beginning? Why bother. “13” wastes all of forty seconds before settling into the death march plod that characterizes almost all of Zwischenwelt. The screams milquetoast, the atmosphere clinical, the tones sterile, the delivery by-the-book; if I didn’t know any better, I’d think we were in an operating room, not a metal review. If you’ve heard one mediocre melodeath act in the last twenty years, you’ve heard every minute of this record. It’s one speed, one sound, one miserable song wrung out twelve times over. Like countless other acts, Pentarium remain stuck in the kiddie pool. But without even making an attempt to hold some other kid’s head underwater or splash the lifeguard or take a piss when no one’s looking, who’s going to notice them?
Pentarium never make you care about their music, because they too don’t seem to give a singular shit about it. Say what you will about the merits of most C-tier imitation acts, but one trait they often share is commitment. Their music may be plain, but they’re still going to play the hell out of it. Pentarium sound tired of their own recycled rhythms and halfhearted keyboard textures before they’re even through the utterly forgettable “Nekropolos” and patently inoffensive “Flames.” The lethargic miasma that comprises Zwischenwelt leaves no room for anything so enjoyable as a hook. Choruses exist as a construct of songwriting, an exercise in role reversal that renders this most critical component a vacant shell, incapable of impacting the record in the slightest. Zwischenwelt‘s landscape is dented with the craters of these complete and utter bombs. Nothing works, and there’s no attempt to convince you otherwise.
One bit on the entire record sticks out as worth recommendation: the mid-section of “Abschied,” featuring both a slam and multiple tempo shifts – lucky us! Past that, what is there? The aggressively aggravating synth tones of “Stare into Darkness?” The going-nowhere-fast treadmill of “Wo worte versagen?” The ill-advised layered cleans on truly abysmal closer “Vor dem Sturm?” Certainly not the solos (there’s one, and I wish there were none), the riffs (there’s none, and I wish there were some), or the imagination, energy, or creativity.
It’s not that this is bad music. Well, maybe it is, but not the way you normally think of bad. Bad offers a counter-intuitive explanation of what’s going on here. Pentarium do not try and fail; they fail to try. In a strictly technical sense, their instrumentation, production, and composition all manage to at least not be the worst I’ve ever heard. I cannot say the same about their ambition. Zwischenwelt is the most unaffecting record I’ve ever listened to. Like sand through the hourglass, this fifty minutes flees from your memory as soon as it ends. There’s a thousand other bands trying to do this exact same thing – I should know, I’ve reviewed most of them. Any one of them will treat you to a better time than this record.
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Boersma Records
Websites: pentarium.bandcamp.com | pentarium.de | facebook.com/pentarium
Releases Dates: Digital: 05.11.2018 | EU: 2018.05.18 | NA: 06.15.2018