Panopticon
On the Subject of Mortality


3.5
great

Review

by Kyle Ward STAFF
January 8th, 2011 | 94 replies | 15,142 views


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An incredible influx of new influences leaves On The Subject Of Mortality torn between its focus on creating a solid base and delving into experimental grounds

The aura that surrounds Austin Lundr’s latest release On The Subject Of Mortality, follow up to 2009’s Collapse, is more subdued than his previous releases would have foreshadowed. When things are going all-out and the tumbling drum fills and faded guitars are crashing down unabated, there are certainly flashbacks to the ferocity of Panopticon’s two previous releases, but somehow the grand scheme of things is largely changed. The great emphasis placed on melody and building, changing moods seems amplified here, a reflection of a band which has begun to shift direction towards new influences while still keeping its feet firmly planted on territory that they know best. Whether or not these relatively minor but still noticeable differences in the way Lundr approaches his compositions are a product of the concept surrounding On The Subject Of Mortality or are a more permanent shift remains to be seen, but until then it is safe to say that the face of Panopticon, while still immediately recognizable, has begun to morph.

The immense chaos weaved within “Living Eulogy”, especially its drumming, will not be a sound that is foreign to those who know Panopticon well. The abrasive production placed on the guitars contrasts its riffing, which is immensely atmospheric and even, in a sense, melodic, leaving behind the heartless and cliché bands of recycled tremolo riffing that often plagues black metal that doesn’t have a sense of direction or individuality. This intensity couples well with the distant and rather minimalistic nature of the song’s bridge, and makes the pairing between the old and the new almost natural. However, the building ambiance of “…Seeing...” may take some by surprise with its seemingly needless piling (a more drawn-out reflection of its counterpart “…Speaking…” on Panopticon’s self-titled), constructing itself for a notable chunk of the track before the guitars and vocals join in for a continued uphill climb toward a climax that is never fully realized.

Lundr has stated that bands like Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Sunny Day Real Estate have influenced his songwriting on On The Subject Of Mortality, a fact that is clearly apparent from the moment the album opens until its close. While Collapse was a noticeable contrast from any of his previous releases, On The Subject Of Mortality is a further exploration into new territory. The album is still firmly rooted in the atmospheric black metal that Panopticon is known for, but the slower, more deliberate pace and expanded experimentation leaves the album torn. On the one hand, the experimentation incorporates itself well with the base product, but on the other it drags down the power and quality of an already established sound.

It’s this sort of hit-or-miss tendency with the influx of new ideas and sounds that, in the end, leaves On The Subject Of Mortality below Panopticon’s previous releases. However, it’s difficult to compare each of his albums simply because they all present a different interpretation of the same foundation, and thus stand apart from each other. It is hard to fault Lundr for his desire to stretch- to explore and experiment with different sounds, instead of setting his focus on one small area and milking it dry. For the most part it works, and the sheer songwriting skill of Lundr prevails, churning out a set of songs that is undoubtedly enjoyable, albeit more relaxed and thoughtful than ever before. Despite a noticeable drop in quality from past material, there should be absolutely no reason why On The Subject Of Mortality should be overlooked.



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user ratings (43)
Chart.
3.4
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
wyankeif1337
January 8th 2011



6739 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

YAY this got reviewed

pos

and i think he said he's coming out with a full length this year, as in not made of splits

Xenophanes
Emeritus
January 8th 2011



10585 Comments


Awesome, I really enjoyed his debut

Digging: United Nations - The Next Four Years

Hyperion1001
Staff Reviewer
January 8th 2011



18007 Comments


I've had this band on my computer for quite some time and never really listened to them, despite all the praise the first album gets.

Digging: Autechre - Draft 7.30

wyankeif1337
January 8th 2011



6739 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

get on it now. it's your first priority.

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
January 8th 2011



16246 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

His self-titled is definitely my favorite. This was still good but just lacks the focus of his past albums. It's almost like he bit off more than he could chew.

Xenophanes
Emeritus
January 8th 2011



10585 Comments


Shall I just wait til the next LP then?

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
January 8th 2011



16246 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Despite a noticeable drop in quality from past material, there should be absolutely no reason why On The Subject Of Mortality should be overlooked.


;)

Hawks
January 8th 2011



34423 Comments


Nice review as always man. I'll probably end up listening to this soon.

Digging: Equilibrium - Erdentempel

Irving
Staff Reviewer
January 8th 2011



7140 Comments


I thought you wrote Panoptitscon there Kyle...

Hahah, kidding. Classy review mate. Not familiar with this particular artist, but have become piqued enough to want to add it to my backlog of stuff to check out. Have a pos.

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
January 8th 2011



16246 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I thought you wrote Panoptitscon there Kyle...

Man you've gotta get your eyes checked or get laid, one of the two haha

Irving
Staff Reviewer
January 8th 2011



7140 Comments


I think I should screw the optometrist. Haha!

Just jk, and I will quit spamming your threads with comments related to chest fat. LOL.

Motiv3
January 8th 2011



8920 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

3.5 is the correct rating for this, good review.

Digging: Opeth - Pale Communion

SCREAM!
January 8th 2011



9964 Comments


actually forgot all about this. Ive listened to the skagos split only about 4-5 times

Digging: Agalloch - The Serpent and the Sphere

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
January 8th 2011



16246 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

His side of the split with WBBS is better than his side with Skagos.

Lucid
Contributing Reviewer
January 8th 2011



7021 Comments


I wasn't too keen on his last two albums so I'll probably give this a skip.

Digging: Shabazz Palaces - Lese Majesty

Hawks
January 8th 2011



34423 Comments


His splits aren't particularly amazing, but both full-length albums are fantastic.

jingledeath
January 9th 2011



7104 Comments


this should be just about decent. will check out soon.

eternium
January 9th 2011



16304 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

If this is just a 3.5 then he gets a good bit weaker with every album he makes. I need to get this nonetheless.

zaruyache
January 9th 2011



5866 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I haven't listened to it that many times through, but I thoroughly enjoyed it whenever I did. I thought the extra influences helped expand his sound, not necessarily detracting from the overall work.

Digging: Sunwolf - Beholden To Nothing And No One

Wizard
January 9th 2011



19210 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Enjoyed the read and excellent review. Just a question Kyle, how long have you had this? I mean a 3.5/5 seems a little disconcerting considering his past two albums are near 5/5. I found those albums took me a bit to really get into to and maybe this album just needs to sink in a bit more. I don't know, I'll get back to you when I've heard it.

Digging: Monarch - Sabbracadaver



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