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Releasing music in the form of a split with another band can be a risky endeavour. For a split to work both bands have to maintain a consistent quality and their music has to work together. While their music works together, Lake of Blood could really use some quality control. They have only one studio song here, which is good, but they make one (well, technically two) unforgivable blunder.
Panopticon starts things off with "Haunted America." This track has a, well, haunting (sorry) vibe. It uses the style that would play such an important role in Panopticon's sophomore release, "Collapse." Its a subtle folk song with slowed down bluegrass in the mix. The sparse use of piano helps build the creepy atmosphere. Although there are no vocals, there is heavy use of sampling. This is an important part of Panopticon's side of this split, as it is often found in the following song as well. This is not quite as good as his bluegrass/folk material on "Collapse", but it is a good lead-up to the album. The following song, "La Passione di Sacco & Vanzetti", starts off with a short sample of some of punk legend Jello Biafra's spoken word material. Crushing black metal quickly ensues. The song is brutal and foreboding. The song definitely has atmosphere, but not in a pleasant or soothing way. Rather the atmosphere creates a sense of suspense and fear; it would work well in a horror movie. The drum patterns are engaging, as to be expected with Panopticon. Without the Austin's talent behind the kit, this track wouldn't be half as powerful. Near the end there is some cool melodic shredding, which fits in nicely.
This split is my introduction to Lake of Blood. As "My Eternal Domain" begins, I'm liking what I hear. Its not quite black metal and not quite death metal, occupying the void in between. If I had to say, I guess they're a bit more black metal, but it is undeniable that death metal plays a tremendous influence in their sound. The song is fast paced and has some killer riffs, along with some powerful rasps. If it were followed up with a song in a similar vein, this release would be unstoppable. Unfortunately, they fuck it up, by which seems to be by pure laziness. Instead of doing to two more studio tracks, they opt to tack on two live tracks, one which happens to be "My Eternal Domain." Thats right: they put the same song on the split twice. The live songs are a bit sloppy and the production could use improvement, to say the least. It really is a shame that they threw in two filler live tracks, as it robs this split from its chance at being a classic.
My suggestion is get the split and just turn it off two tracks early. A lot of bands don't put their all into splits. Unfortunately, Lake of Blood take this approach. They put in one great song, and use filler for the other two. As for Panopticon, their side is killer. They do have better material, but this is still really good. Its not even their best split; the second split with Wheels Within Wheels is great, and the split with Skagos is something that every black metal listener should hear. Panopticon deserves a solid 90. The filler on Lake of Blood's side drags them down to a 65, although they would have scored significantly higher if not for the live tracks.