Panopticon
Panopticon


4.5
superb

Review

by rasputin USER (196 Reviews)
January 14th, 2009 | 505 replies | 26,443 views


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Slipping under 2008’s radar, a one man black metal project rises above the rest.

8 of 9 thought this review was well written

It’s unfortunate that so much of black metal seems to dwell on stupid concepts such as elves and forests and fantastical imagery, not to mention the hordes of the anti-Christ who seem to believe it’s their duty on earth to make bad music about Satanism. So when a black metal band avoids these overblown and overused themes altogether, it’s extremely pleasing for the disillusioned black metal fan, such as myself. In this regard, Panopticon is rather refreshing: both political and philosophical aspects are explored in its lyrics, and while it dwells on the elements of human nature, it retains a morbid tint that furthers its black metal appeal. In this way, Panopticon does somewhat adhere to the typical tenets of USBM; although, in this reviewer’s opinion, there is a respectable jump in the intelligence of the lyrical content, compared to, for example, Leviathan’s latest release (which one could easily regard as being quite well written). However, unlike Massive Conspiracy Against All Life, Panopticon steers clear of musical complexities, as well as the murky, swamp-like sound a lot of USBM bands seem to dwell on; it is hugely melodic, and creates a rather desolate and bleak atmosphere which ultimately furthers this melodic feel that characterizes the album. Thus, although obviously being a member of the geographical USBM scene, Panopticon is distinctly separate from its contemporaries and, both from a conceptual and musical point of view, is a unique and sublime black metal album.

Amidst the wave of one man black metal bands, or rather, any idiot with a guitar and recording software, coming across a truly talented and ambitious solo musician in black metal is rare, but ever so pleasing. The creative force behind Panopticon, simply known as A, is not a hugely technical musician; his drumming is perhaps the one aspect of Panopticon that one could regard as highly proficient, but it is more his vision and the collusion of the various elements in his music that really give the album a sense of direction and character. The usual tremolo riffing is what defines most of the guitar lines, and also provides for the background fuzz which supplements the album’s atmosphere. This is not to say, however, that the album is fuzzy; the production is typical of black metal, but in no way detracts from hearing and enjoying virtually every aspect offered. As mentioned before, the album is hugely melodic, and this can be heard in the majority of the riffing; moments of heaviness do pop up occasionally, as well as some interesting and progressive guitar lines, for example the beginning of ‘Archetype’, but in general, Panopticon keeps to vivid black metal riffing, complemented by a vicious drum assault. Moreover, A’s use of lead guitar really gives the album a unique feel, whether it be through various solos, such as in ‘The Lay of Grimnir’, or the vast and sorrowful lead guitar lines of ‘Flag Burner, Torch Bearer’.

The beauty of Panopticon is that within its specified musical direction, there is always a sense of unpredictability. ‘The Lay of Grimnir’ makes use of acoustic passages, giving the track a distinct folk feel, similar to French band Belenos, but this does not in any way define the album as a whole. Surprisingly enough, towards the end of ‘The Lay of Grimnir’, we’re treated to yet another acoustic passage before the song bursts into an almost hardcore punk section, simple yet blackened riffing, shouted vocals and a steady one-two beat. The best thing about it is that it does not feel out of place in the slightest, and it’s these spontaneous outbursts of various other genres in Panopticon which keeps it a continually interesting album. Furthermore, A makes sure to not repeat himself musically throughout Panopticon; asides from the aforementioned ‘other’ aspects to his music which supports the album’s longevity, any single riff, or melody, is not overused at all. Lastly, a mention need be made about A’s vocals. He thankfully continues on with his separation from USBM, and this makes its biggest effect in the vocal facets of the album. Unlike the popular ‘toad croak’ that has unfortunately become an acceptable vocal form amongst black metal ranks, A still keeps things guttural, keeping a distinctly black metal feel about himself but not straying off to shrieking heights. His growls are dense and really support the album in terms of heaviness. The fact that he does not stick to a single pitch again helps with the album’s longevity and overall effect; A’s performance completely depends on the specific moment in the album, in which he spouts out his well written lyrics in a seamless assonance to the music.

As a debut album, Panopticon is incredibly solidified in its approach and final destination. A has taken his already conceived ambitions and brought them to full effect, without any hesitations or self imposed hindrances that can affect such piece of music. Not only as a black metal album, but as the conception of a single individual, Panopticon is a rather intimate deal, and delving into it is not only an uplifting experience from its musical uniqueness but also from the depth of its appeal. As mentioned in the introduction, Panopticon is refreshing, like stepping out from a musty and stale room into the cold air. It’s unfortunate that the album was hugely overlooked in terms of 2008’s metal releases, perhaps flailing in the hype of Leviathan’s latest offering, but it’s without a doubt that Panopticon is one of the past year’s best metal releases. Highly recommended.



Recent reviews by this author
Hoax HoaxHakaristi Hakaristi
Burial Invocation Rituals of the GrotesqueEibon Entering Darkness
Abe Sada / Sub Ordnance Redux / Organ GrinderIron Lung/Mind Eraser/HS/Scapegoat Brutal Supremacy
user ratings (137)
Chart.
4.1
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
rasputin
January 14th 2009



14512 Comments


I should have written this sometime ago, but here it is anyway.

charlesfishtitz
January 14th 2009



784 Comments


what is it?

rasputin
January 14th 2009



14512 Comments


my doodle

Willie
Moderator
January 14th 2009



15875 Comments


Amidst the wave of one metal black metal bands, or rather, any idiot with a guitar and recording software
lol. Nicely put. I'll check this out.

Digging: Emperor - In The Nightside Eclipse - 20th Year Anniversary

charlesfishtitz
January 14th 2009



784 Comments


ooh this souns preety good

Douchebag
January 14th 2009



3624 Comments


Good review, dunno if this is my cup of Tea though.
I wrote my first review today, should check it out. *hint hint.

IsItLuck?
Emeritus
January 14th 2009



4926 Comments


Isis

Essence
January 14th 2009



3576 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

damnit Flatley beat me to it

rasputin
January 14th 2009



14512 Comments


[quote=Willie]lol. Nicely put. I'll check this out.[/quote]
That was actually a typo! Fixed now.
[quote=fish]ooh this souns preety good[/quote]
Check it.

Willie
Moderator
January 14th 2009



15875 Comments


That was actually a typo! Fixed now.
The weird thing is that I didn't catch the typo. My mind read it the way you have it changed to now.

rasputin
January 14th 2009



14512 Comments


Yeah, I had to read it a few times before realising something was amiss.

Zoo
January 15th 2009



3759 Comments


Good stuff man, I probably won't check this out though. At least not for a while. I'm not really in a nsbm mood right now.

rasputin
January 15th 2009



14512 Comments


It's not NSBM man, it's USBM, big difference :P

Zoo
January 15th 2009



3759 Comments


Ah, I'm buggin' out. Not sure why I thought I read nsbm.

rasputin
January 15th 2009



14512 Comments


Well it was one letter off, so it's understandable. This is nothing like NSBM anyway, and it's not really similar to most USBM either, although it's American.

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
January 15th 2009



17920 Comments


they are all the sAme

AngelPhoenix
January 15th 2009



2764 Comments


lol chan.

Pebster49
January 15th 2009



2991 Comments


Impressive lyrics, even if I disgree with most of what he is saying. You really can feel all the hard work and dedication he put in his project. Good review Rasputin

SnackaryBinx
January 15th 2009



2309 Comments


not to mention the hordes of the anti-Christ who seem to believe it’s their duty on earth to make bad music about Satanism


that made me lol. i'm probably going to download this when i get home today.

AvictimOfSociety
January 15th 2009



71 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Will definitely be checking this out soon. Rasp if you haven't hit up acid witch yet I think you might like that as well.



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2013 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy