PENDULUM, Skull Fuck (1989, Euthanasia)
Oh my. This is one of the greatest skulls we have ever curated in the Big Dumb Skullection. While we disqualify any cover featuring multiple skulls, this one skirts around that rule by featuring a skull that is simply made of smaller skulls…it’s just part of its genetic makeup, it can’t help it. And it’s in grave danger of losing all those little skulls, with that half-moon blade swinging pendulum-style right into the skull’s forehead, spraying blood and tiny skulls everywhere. And the skull looks immensely happy about this! Perhaps the blade is firing neurons in the skull-brain that produce a feeling of total elation or something. Two hooded figures flank the scene, looking on as if this was some sort of medieval sporting event. We believe these two are ancestors of a couple members of the Council of the Skull. This cover is almost too good to be believed.
This long-dead Texas band are aiming for a kind of wiry, buzzing technical speed metal sort of thing, probably influenced in part by fellow Texans Watchtower, who were in their prime the year Pendulum released this 4-song EP. It’s interesting music, possibly fusion-influenced, but the vocals are horrible. The vocalist is what your mom means when she says “How can you listen to all that yelling?” And this guy isn’t even doing a threatening sort of yell; he sounds like a petulant child who just discovered D.R.I. and is trying his best to whine like Kurt Brecht but ends up sounding like an entirely powerless and way less squeaky Jason McMaster (ex-Watchtower). You have to admire Pendulum’s forward-thinking approach, but the vocals kill it, and the arrangements are a total mess too, so unless later demos are better, it would seem their finest contribution to metal is that amazing cover artwork.
— Friar Wagner