Showing posts with label panopticon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label panopticon. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

video review: 'the scars of man on the once nameless wilderness (i and ii)' by panopticon

And man alive, this took a ton to finish. Next up, Kali Uchis - stay tuned!

album review: 'the scars of man on the once nameless wilderness (i and ii)' by panopticon

I'm not sure without Panopticon I'd have gotten into black metal.

Oh, it was a genre I was exploring, but it was mostly at arm's length, tentatively probing into alien walls of screaming guitars, hammering drums and howled vocals, and while the huge melodies were appealing in the more atmospheric material, I was waiting for that special record to really click. And then came Panopticon, blending in elements of bluegrass and folk and country, genres I knew well, and with records like Kentucky served as my bridge into a genre that captured the primal character of Appalachians, both at its most abandoned and wild to the mountains ravaged by the coal industry and desperate poverty. Yeah, even though I've always found the lyrics from Panopticon nearly impossible to make out - and project mastermind Austin Lunn has no interest in making them easy - there was something to his guttural roars that painted a stark picture to pull me back again and again, culminating when he released Autumn Eternal and it made my year-end list for the best records of 2015.

So, three years later... and we have a two-hour double album, half of which was atmospheric black metal, the other half country folk with an ambitious breadth of instrumentation that almost seemed to imply a more progressive side coming through with this band. And with that album title, it was hard to avoid the thought that Austin Lunn might be returning to the more stark political subtext that hammered through Kentucky. And while I knew this was going to be a LOT to fully take in... hell, I was on-board, so what did I find on The Scars Of Man On The Once Nameless Wilderness (I and II)?

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

the top 25 best albums of 2015 (VIDEO)

And now we've got the last of the lists - damn, this video took WAY too much work to get online...

Okay, next up... well, it's Rachel Platten, so nobody cares, but after that is Billboard BREAKDOWN, so stay tuned!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

the top 25 best albums of 2015

We're now onto my final list, the one that always produces a certain amount of frustration as I struggle to recognize the best of the best. And as I said in my last list, it's always difficult to narrow it down to the best of the best. And this year was probably the hardest yet, mostly because it started so damn strong and was able to sustain that momentum into late this year. And while I was able to trim this list down to 25. And thus for the sake of my own conscience, I need to mention a few Honourable Mentions in no particular order that just missed this list. 

Because believe me, when you have comeback records like No Cities To Love by Sleater-Kinney and Tetsuo & Youth by Lupe Fiasco that show huge returns to form, they deserve at least a shoutout. Hell, an album that features a creative rebirth like Baroness' Purple which dropped very late in the year deserves it too. And then you have underappreciated gems like Escape From Evil by Lower Dens, one of the great unsung synthpop records of this year. And on that note, as much it might be a bit of a contentious statement to say that hip-hop had a great year, I stand by it - when you have Earl Sweatshirt, Jay Rock, The Underachievers, Yelawolf, Pusha T and Czarface dropping stellar sophomore records, coupled with comebacks of unexpected quality from Ludacris and killer debuts from Joey Bada$$, all of which might have had a shot for this list in a weaker year, that's saying something. And that's not counting the list itself that's at least twenty percent hip-hop, but we'll get to that - hell, might as well start with...

Sunday, November 29, 2015

video review: 'autumn eternal' by panopticon

Man, I'm so thrilled I was able to finally cover this. Such a great record, definitely has me enthused to check out more black metal in the future, that's for damn sure.

Next up, Arca and Freddie Gibbs, so stay tuned!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

album review: 'autumn eternal' by panopticon

So one of the things I've discovered in my expanding exploration of atmospheric black metal is that while there's a pitch-black core of explosive tremolo picking and blast beat drumming to complement the the howled vocals, there have always been efforts to mutate or expand the sound. By now most people know how Deafheaven drew on shoegaze and emo, but they weren't the first to draw forth more atmospheric textures, like the ambient sounds of Wolves In The Throne Room or the more blatantly pagan and progressive touches of In The Woods... So what if I were to tell you about an American black metal project that didn't just blend in folk, but bluegrass as well?

Because in theory it's not as far removed as you might think. After all, the fast-picked tremolo melodies aren't that far from the quick picks of a banjo - the key would be finding the right subject matter. And like most, when I heard about the one-man black metal project of American musician Austin Lunn called Panopticon, I decided to dive in at the 2012 album Kentucky... and wow, I was glad I did, because this is something special. What immediately struck me about Kentucky was on a conceptual and lyrical level how much it worked - a ramshackle presentation delving into the desperate poverty and bleak devastation of backwater rural Appalachia, ravaged by a flailing and heartless coal industry, damn near perfect themes for a black metal project. Now in execution it didn't quite land as well - as much as I dug the bluegrass and country touches, especially with the vocal snippets, the transitions always felt a little clumsy and I found myself underwhelmed by some of the black metal compositions themselves. Thankfully, much of this was cleaned up two years later for the frigid and excellent Roads To The North, which brought in some symphonic touches with strings, great drumwork, and great atmosphere. What was also interesting was the shift in mood - where Kentucky was more immediately abrasive and confrontational, Roads To The North was more contemplative and wild, finding a certain tranquillity in the frozen heart of the wild. Where bands like Immortal and Satyricon wrote about Scandinavia, Austin Lunn was writing about the rugged American wilderness, with the more eclectic instrumentation only adding to the authenticity. I'll be straight with you - if I had covered Roads To The North last year when it was released - it might have had a very real shot at making my year end list.

So you can bet I was going to be checking out his newest record Autumn Eternal, apparently intended as the conclusion of a trilogy with Kentucky and Roads To The North and with more straightforward black metal - what did we get?