Review Summary: it seems that being charitable to cumbersome ‘associate’ bands is becoming something of a trend.
Panopticon again release a split with a band nobody had heard of before and suffer the consequences. Thankfully, When Bitter Spring Sleeps is probably the least worst of the four bands Lundr has shared the studio with, the only other somewhat decent band being Wheels Within Wheels (don't even get me started on Skagos).
Panopticon opens the side and it's like magic. There is a reason why Panopticon is moving so fast through internet black metal trends - it's easy to listen to, but it's so fu
cking great at the same time. In all honesty, there is no difference in quality, be it compositionally or thematically, between Panopticon's side of this split and the rest of Lundr's material. His intermingling of rootsy folk music with epic and unconventional black metal has become less and less obtrusive as Panopticon’s discography grows, but the only thing changing is the smoothness of his composition and his subtlety.
Following Panopticon’s three tracks of magnificence, WBSS come on to showcase their three tracks, and just like every other split that has come out with half of it belonging to Panopticon, essentially ruin any overwhelming catharsis. The parts of the tracks that are actually music are fairly average at best, with fuzzy guitars that have mistaken depth with repetition and some sincere yet mawkish clean vocals. This would all be fine however, had the band not chosen to include minutes of woodland noises that serve absolutely no other purpose than irritating the listener who is carefully trying to construct a review out of several sentences he absentmindedly wrote down. Fortunately WBSS end the CD with a song that does reach some level of sophistication, but it is too little too late.
Props to Lundr for exposing some bands that otherwise would not have had any real chances of being heard, but at the very least he could have chosen some outstanding bands rather than a few ranging from barely average to downright mediocre. At least Lundr is smart and has made sure to release both the songs on this and the songs on the Skagos split separately. He knows what's going down.