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Panopticon-...And Again Into the Light ALBUM REVIEW


Written Before Listen


Panopticon are a one person metal band from Kentucky. Before hand, I knew their name and I’ve heard a song or two just lurking for music. What I know about them is that they are a Post/Black metal outfit that take away the satanic and lo-fi aesthetic that black metal usually has. As metal goes for this year, I’ve yet to be wowed. Gojira’s new album sounded like they are nothing more than veterans at this point, Cannibal Corpse’s album was as pure as death metal can be but I didn’t really see that much merit to it and don’t get me started on that Architects album. With that being said, I’ve seen some pretty positive reviews coming from this album and maybe this could be one of the better metal releases of this year.


Production

Usually when it comes to black metal, a lot of the production is tinny, lo-fi and usually compared to the recording quality of a “tape recorder in the bottom of the well”. Surely there are numerous exceptions….and this album seems to be one of them. It’s not the richest of production but it takes a lot of cues from the production of Post-Metal. In the metal moments, the guitars are overbearing the mix and the drums are always going off as Austin is usually firing on all cylinders. There are also unique additions of violin to these tracks too which gives it a unique vibe. On the more mellow side of things, Austin goes on the more brooding side of country music with acoustic guitars, banjos and slide guitar. With the clean guitar tone, it is very reminiscent of Post-Rock as the guitars are clean, atmospheric and subliminally modulated. Personally, the production isn[t the richest ive heard in the metal realm and it does take some adjusting, but it’s surely a unique take on the black metal aestehtic


Aesthetic


Speaking of aesthetic, Austin’s music oozes it. Austin portrays somewhat of an outcast that likes to wander in the forest and escape his demons (or at least thats what I think). He is a person that escapes reality throughout his music as he really feels motivated when he’s surrounded by things he loves such as nature. Its not surprising either as A lot of the styles he takes have a devoted background to nature whether that be the forest, the countryside or even water. Austin combines all nature aesthetics I just mentioned to create somewhat of a musical reservoir of some sorts. Its quite a unique vibe


Genre-Bending


I kind of alluded to his genre bending skill but he surely has it without question. He combines elements of Black Metal, Country and Post-Rock in such a cool way. Right off the bat, we got a brooding and depressive country track to open up the album. The track right after is this post-rock influenced metal track with a hint of doom metal. There is also the track “Moth Eaten Soul” where Austin brings some Death Metal into the mix with its harsher instrumentation and more harmonious sounding riffs. With that being said, the whole entire album tries its best to keep all feet planted to the ground Austin has walked in for the entirety of the record.

Influences

Despite being the intricate songwriter Austin is, he tends to avoid shying away from his influences. Surely the country side of him is quite original but the problem occurs when looking back at other Post-Metal/Post-Rock bands before him. The folk instrumentation, the dramatic arrangements, the wilderness sound effects and aesthetic as well as the tone are very reminiscent of bands like Agalloch. I’ll also say the dynamics that Austin pulls off are very similar to most post-rock out there. A lot of the more dramatic wall of sound moments are very similar to a surreal piece in a Godspeed You Black Emporor track or the middle of a Mogwai song. Honestly, I think Panopticon throughout this whole album might not have the strongest originality attribute.


Cons


As I said, Austin seems to lean a little too close on his influences, but its not like its super derivative. Luckily, the unique influences he takes, doesn’t take away the fact that he just reminds me of other artists and not directly take from them. To be fair, the way he Combines the influence of country, post-rock and atmospheric black metal is actually pretty well done. Austin Lunn uses these influences to create a dark and atmospheric road that feels like a walk in the forest throughout the hour and 11 minute run time.


Verdict


Well…this is so far the metal album of the year. I don’t think anything really compares to the level of emotion, cohesion or even succession that this album receives. Despite that, I think it still has its flaws but if you’re into atmospheric black metal or post metal, this might be the album for you.


7/10



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