Review Summary: Like a banana split, only better!
To make a clear definition of what a split album is, split albums generally consist of at least two bands, whether they are of the same genre or not, collaborating together or creating individual songs that can consist of an entire full length album or an E.P. These split albums can either be for marketing purposes by a label/ band wanting to showcase its potential or simply a creative force between two like-minded bands that want to create an album worthy of your time and money. Splits are for the most part, a rarity in metal with the odd split album popping up here and there within the genre. In fact, split albums have been known to propel bands careers into motion. Take for example the black metal classic Hordanes Land
that saw up and coming black metal protégés Emperor ushering in the fantastic Enslaved. How about the legendary Napalm Death inviting Coalesce to do the chaotic grind/ metalcore E.P. In Tongues We Speak…
? Here we have two fantastic examples of bands with similar tastes coming together to make mutual ideas meet half way. Anarchist, black metal stalwarts Panopticon meet at a crossroads with droney, post metalists Wheels within Wheels, both relatively new to the extreme metal realm and together, creating one of the finest E.P. splits ever to grace the metal genre.
This four song E.P. is ‘split’ right down the middle with Panopticon opening things up with a weird twist. One-man black metal band Panopticon leads in with an almost country folk tune; complete with mandolin tremolo picking that will most likely make most people sigh when they see the 10+ minute running time. Fortunately, the song changes up throughout, enough to keep the listener interested and offering a build-up to a ho-down swing as the final minutes of the song ring in. Panopticon’s second contribution to the E.P split wouldn’t sound out of place on his fantastic self-titled debut, combing his Leviathan like shrieks, Nattens Madrigal
buzzsaw guitars, and the raw power of black metal legends Darkthrone. As “The Ghosts of Haymarket Square” fades out on a combination of bitter black metal and mournful post metal, this sets the tone for the last two tracks on the album, performed by Wheels within Wheels. Wheels within Wheels waste no time jumping on the noisy blast of bass booming post metal that will make your head vibrate with dissonant bliss. If “Begining” is a taste of things to come, then “White Light Rains Down On…” lets the listener know that these guys aren’t screwing around. The song title is exactly how to describe this epic gem. Starting out with a trudging climb up the Rosetta mountain, the song climaxes through a beautiful melodic passage of bass heavy precision that equates to pretty much everything a post metal fan could ever come to expect.
Before you know it, this E.P. split has come to an end and you must now hit play once again to fully embrace yourself in what these two bands are striving to achieve. Panopticon and Wheels within Wheels come together not only as a promotional tool for their artistic visions, but as a breathtaking view of what the underground American metal culture has to offer to these beloved sub-genres of metal (black metal and drone/post metal). The results are fantastic and any fan of the two sub-genres will be mighty impressed by this album (price and album packaging as well). Panopticon and Wheels within Wheels create a promotional album that shows off many strengths that will hopefully open them up to the metal masses, driving them further to make music like this for a long time to come.