Panopticon
Social Disservices


3.7
great

Review

by Kyle Ward STAFF
November 28th, 2011 | 164 replies | 15,638 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Austin Lunn shows us that he doesn't really mind giving you an education by screaming in your face

My bachelor’s degree in sociology may not be worth much to the real world, but it allows me some insight into the world that Austin Lunn is driving at with his latest full-length release Social Disservices. The sheer intensity of the album is a testament to the passion Lunn has in driving home the fact that social services (or disservices, as the album title suggests) does little to help people climb out of the deep trenches they are trapped in; they are given a bottle of pills and instead told to go sit in a corner. Sadly, this is a fate that a lot of people are met with on a daily basis – they are forgotten by the very people they trust to protect them. This kind of head-first dive into rather sensitive issues isn’t new ground for Lunn – his second LP Collapse focused on the inevitable decline of government infrastructure – but on Social Disservices things seems a bit more personal, and it shows in the music.

Heralded as Panopticon’s darkest and heaviest release to date, I think the description does well in bracing the listener for the onslaught that is to come. It may be going a bit far to call this album Panopticon’s heaviest release – I think his 2008 self-titled LP claims that title – but it is certainly a stark contrast to the atmospheric and benign (for Lunn’s tendencies) nature of last year’s On The Subject Of Mortality. Then again, the moving string arrangements in the conclusion “Patient” are a touch that doesn’t normally become intertwined with moody, cynical black metal, but their morose tones lend a sense of personality to the music that raw, buzzing guitars normally can’t handle. Indeed, there are some soaring riffs here that build and crash in a way that is foreign to a black metal band’s self-proclaimed darkest release to date, but taking these elements for what they are is missing the point of what is being said here. The album is entrenched in the deepest sense of heaviness, and the majority of the album runs at a blistering pace with drums crashing and Lunn’s distanced vocals putting on a show for the ages. Panopticon’s drumming has always been a high point, and on Social Disservices their complexities give a character to the album that is rare for this kind of music – black metal drummers aren’t normally this creative in their work.

The album follows a logical conceptual projection, with the four tracks running as “Resident”, “Client”, “Subject” and “Patient”, and while the clear winner is the 20-minute epic “Patient” that concludes the album, each track has worthwhile moments that keep things from growing stagnant. “Resident” features eerie recurring strings and is the album’s most sinister number, while “Subject” takes its time to piece together a slow, wandering build that is heavy in a different sense than its neighbors – a real treat by the time the entire thing is said and done. The real kicker of Social Disservices is just how easy it is to listen to, a testament to how much songwriting talent Lunn possesses. The album may not best its predecessors – namely Collapse and Panopticon – in terms of their potency (aside from “Patient” there aren’t any truly astounding tracks through and through), but it digs itself a niche right at their feet.

There is something to be said about an album that can include large chunks of melody and still be easily referred to as heavy and bleak, and Social Disservices is one such album. It digs into a tough and sensitive issue without being laborious or sounding like a lecture tape, and it does so in a way that avoids the usual pitfalls of black metal concept albums: being long-winded, pretentious, and derivative. Perhaps this is because it is crafted by an artist who isn’t ignorant about the subjects he writes about; perhaps it is the fact that he has a penchant for songwriting and the concept diffuses its way into the music without effort. To me it is a combination of both, and Social Disservices emerges from this process as one of the best black metal albums so far this year, and one that I will continue to spin for quite a while - until the next Panopticon album, at the very least.



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user ratings (62)
Chart.
3.6
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Crysis
Staff Reviewer
November 28th 2011


16373 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

I felt like this review turned out different than the ones I normally write. Maybe it's because I focused more on the concept behind the record or that I spoke in first-person a few times, but I think it is fitting for this album.

This record, if anything, has been getting better the more I listen to it.

Digging: Darkspace - Dark Space III I

Hawks
November 28th 2011


35824 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I still need to listen to this.

Digging: Engraved - Before The Tales

ShadowRemains
November 28th 2011


20687 Comments


great review broski

Digging: Banks - Goddess

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
November 28th 2011


16373 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Thanks Shadow. Not sure if you like this band or not but give it a listen. It's on Ghosts of Saturn.

I still need to listen to this.

Yes, you do.

rasputin
November 28th 2011


14541 Comments


when I listened to the stream I was a bit disappointed

we'll see how it goes after a few more listens

I'm personally keener on the other LP that's due

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
November 28th 2011


16373 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

What disappointed you about it? The fact that it wasn't really as heavy as it was made out to be?


I also can't wait for the other LP, I think that one is going to be the better of the two. Maybe that's because I think "Idavoll" is one of his best tracks and the last half of "The Death Of Baldr And The Coming War" is brilliant.

Motiv3
November 28th 2011


8931 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

great review as normal Crysis. Album is excellent, not quite as good as collapse and not near the self
titled but its still really great. I was looking forward to the other album more though so we'll see
how it is.

Digging: Punch - They Don?t Have To Believe

TheSpirit
November 28th 2011


17803 Comments


Was waiting for this review. Only half listened to this and haven't really been compelled to give it a listen since

Digging: Emarosa - Versus

AngelofDeath
Staff Reviewer
November 28th 2011


16137 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Might grow on you. Not as good as the first two but still a very solid release.

Also, the drumming on the final portion of Patient is outstanding.

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
November 28th 2011


16373 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Torn between whether this or his s/t has the best drumming.

He's a good fucking drummer.

Hawks
November 28th 2011


35824 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

The drumming on the self-titled is fucking amazing.

ShadowRemains
November 28th 2011


20687 Comments


Not sure if you like this band or not but give it a listen. It's on Ghosts of Saturn.


yup i saw it, i've given panopticon's other albums listens and they were quite good

and yes the drumming stood out

fromtheinside
November 28th 2011


18202 Comments


I remember this soc class I took sophomore year and we were given assignments to break taboos and I decided I'd fart in a packed elevator and the things I learned from that were priceless. this literally had nothing to do with your album or review other than you mentioning your degree. my two pennies

Digging: Tragedy - Vengeance

rasputin
November 28th 2011


14541 Comments


What disappointed you about it? The fact that it wasn't really as heavy as it was made out to be?


not entirely sure, it just didn't keep my attention. though, as I said, that's just on one listen, which ultimately means nothing.

DeafMetal
November 28th 2011


8588 Comments


good review man

Digging: Hawkwind - Space Ritual

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
November 28th 2011


16373 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

@fromtheinside - Insightful story, bet you got an A.

@Deaf- Thanks, hope you like the album.

DeafMetal
November 28th 2011


8588 Comments


ya i decently enjoyed it my first listen through a few nights ago

liledman
November 28th 2011


3826 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

this was the first of his releases where the songs actually felt as long as they were. going through the motions musically i guess, even if he has obviously invested quite a great deal conceptually.

Hyperion1001
Staff Reviewer
November 28th 2011


18447 Comments


the songs actually felt as long as they were.


my thoughts exactly

Digging: Recondite - Caldera/DRGN 2

rasputin
November 28th 2011


14541 Comments


i relistened to collapse the other day and i was still pretty floored by the acoustic sections, which made me realise how awesome (i hope) his other LP will be



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