Panopticon
Roads to the North


4.2
excellent

Review

by Kyle Ward STAFF
August 12th, 2014 | 340 replies


Release Date: 08/01/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Watching the mountains sleep

The fact that Roads to the North is Panopticon’s most refined release since 2009’s Collapse is a telling argument toward the pure simplicity that once drove the band’s first two albums. Since then, things became a bit muddled by grandiose thematic ambitions that had trouble translating into a single, cohesive album. Sure, Social Disservices was effective in conveying its unabated aggression and heartfelt anger through near-constant, bombastic heaviness, but that album was more brute force than it was finesse. Both Panopticon and Collapse were more adept at incorporating a contrasting shade to Austin Lunn’s tumultuous drumming and thunderous riffing, while Kentucky and the compilation …On the Subject of Mortality tended to distance the two elements rather than let them intermingle with each other. Roads to the North allows tracks like “Where Mountains Pierce the Sky” to explore both facets whose meeting and melting is vital to the success of Panopticon’s overall atmosphere, as the band’s sound is more layered than it may first appear to be. Similarly, soft ballads like the serene “Norwegian Nights” have a massive presence that simply would not exist had it not been slotted directly alongside the impossibly heavy black metal that laces every aspect of “In Silence”. It’s a stunning example that musical depth is more than just paying homage to a variety of sounds, ideas, and structures. It is instead having the talent and vision to make all of these divergent attributes come alive and actually converge into a single, cohesive piece, and Roads to the North does that.

This success is due in no small part to the inspiration behind the album, and it is clearly apparent that Lunn’s move from Kentucky to Minnesota and also his time in Norway left a lasting, tangible impact on his attitude towards life and music, as shown by the relative softness that courses through the heart of each track. The melodies that shine through the often abrasive riffing give an aura of beauty to the otherwise crushing barrage of instruments, allowing complexities like the downright brilliant drumming to shine where it might otherwise be lost in a wall of reverb. “The Long Road Part 2: Capricious Miles” shows off an impressive array of layers as it ventures through screaming guitars to a mid-tempo bridge where the gentle bass swells and retreats, doing so with a warm fluidity that bleeds into the equally comforting intro of the trilogy’s conclusion “The Long Road Part 3: The Sigh of Summer”, giving the track’s name true substance through its radiant composition. It is all so finely crafted that it makes you wonder why it took over 5 years for Panopticon to have another release of this caliber, as Austin Lunn clearly has the songwriting talent to so expertly turn an idea or an experience into aural form. The pieces have been there all along, as Lunn has always incorporated these elements into his music, it just took the right creative spark to make them come together so cleanly and with such conviction like they did when the project first began. So, the record takes no risks, and journeys no roads that Panopticon hasn’t been down before, yet through an almost virtuosic ability to take a powerful experience and translate the feelings it invokes into music Roads to the North stands head and shoulders above most of the band’s discography.




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user ratings (110)
Chart.
3.9
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Crysis
Staff Reviewer
August 12th 2014


16388 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

I meant to have a review for this posted weeks ago, but real life happened so I'm doing it now. This is a fantastic album, very easily his best since Collapse.

Digging: Spectral Lore - III

TheSpirit
August 12th 2014


17819 Comments


Downloaded this last night, can't wait to give it a listen

Digging: Emarosa - Versus

Wolfhorde
August 12th 2014


13238 Comments


"very easily his best since Collapse."
Agreed. Will read this review fully tomorrow as I've just spent way too much time reading and laughing my ass off at moaropeth so it's past midnight now.

Hyperion1001
Staff Reviewer
August 12th 2014


18465 Comments


ive never really thought this guy was worth all the hype honestly

Digging: Recondite - Caldera/DRGN 2

Relinquished
August 12th 2014


25045 Comments


he is worth the rion1001 though

Hyperion1001
Staff Reviewer
August 12th 2014


18465 Comments


i always wondered why more people didnt make that joke

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
August 12th 2014


16388 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

he's talented as hell when he actually manages to find true inspiration

Hawks
August 12th 2014


35824 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Sweet review. I like this more than Collapse tbh, but still not as good as the s/t.

Digging: Engraved - Before The Tales

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
August 12th 2014


19747 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

excellent work kyle, I've been waiting for someone to review this one

Digging: Spectral Lore - III

Hawks
August 12th 2014


35824 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

^^^^^^

Judio!
Contributing Reviewer
August 12th 2014


5797 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Oh man, I am so excited to jam this one.

Digging: Moonsorrow - V: Havitetty

Gameofmetal
August 12th 2014


1115 Comments


The album title, band name, and cover make me want to jam this by themselves

ExplosiveOranges
August 12th 2014


2601 Comments


This should be good.

Digging: YOB - Clearing The Path To Ascend

zaruyache
August 12th 2014


6441 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I think this is on par with Collapse. Not hugely impressed with either, but they're both enjoyable listens. I think maybe like one of the less interesting tracks could've been taken off this album to shorten it up a bit.

Digging: Alpha Male Tea Party - Droids

Hawks
August 12th 2014


35824 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Have you jammed the s/t Zaruyache?

beefshoes
August 12th 2014


3868 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I think that I remember reading that this mixes bluegrass elements in with black metal, correct? I might have to give this a jam soon.

Digging: The Contortionist - Language

Hyperion1001
Staff Reviewer
August 12th 2014


18465 Comments


that was his other album, kentucky. he abandoned that idea after that release.

PortalofPerfection
August 12th 2014


486 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Getting this soon but I want to hear his older stuff first. Like what I've heard so far.

Digging: Darkspace - Dark Space III I

PortalofPerfection
August 12th 2014


486 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Getting this soon but I want to hear his older stuff first. Like what I've heard so far.

IAmTheSun
August 12th 2014


21 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great album.



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