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What do we know about these two bands? Both of them, Skagos and Panopticon are reckoned as two of the most promising and prosperous bands of contemporary black metal. Probably, it is attributed to the appearance of such a subgenre as cascadian black, which is almost as popular as norwegian true BM or shoegazing black from France (that doesn't mean the membership from Cascads write shit, it's just the fact that they are very popular nowadays). Both plays exactly the cascadian style, exactly this soft kind of BM. Though Skagos and Panopticon have not too much releases, metal society can appretiate them for their outstanding services. And on my own opinion they do it better than anybody else (even better than the trendsetter of the style - Wolves In The Throne Room).
Before this split Skagos and Panopticon already were rather successful and well-known. So, the idea of making the joint album was dictated by the desire of proving their professionalism and show who is the leader of the newest BM. Also, as we can see, this split made them even much more famous than before.
Probably, while making the album, musicians had entered their heads that the split won't refrain the comparison between both bands. So, there was some kind of emulative implication too.
Also, as I noticed, cascadian black has a special feature. Almost all of the songs of this style could be sorted out in two categories. The first is if the song is really good, it becomes a true hit. If the song is not the hit, it is just an average and mediocre bullshit. Thank God, neither Skagos nor Panopticon don't even have the examples of bad and average tracks (especially on this amazing split).
I said a few paragraphs ago that the split of Skagos and Panopticon has a competitive nature to a considerable degree. So, who won?
Total playing time: 27:48 min.
The number of songs: 2.
I'll start with Skagos. To my mind, this band deserves a little bit more attention than their american neighbours. As I said above, there can be two types of cascadian BM songs. Actually, Skagos has no bad ones, so we can understand that they have only hits.
Skagos continues to "stick to their guns", started with the full-length called "Ást". Very tuneful, melodic black with many various interesting insets; it also has some folk and post-black influences. The drums and guitars are magnetic. Though they seem to be some kind of anxious, they cast the quiet mood together with the delight.
Both of the songs have roughly the same structure. I don't say that they do not differ from each other - they just have close structure of the songwriting. Anyway, these tracks penetrate you to the core. If they touched you from the beginning, they won't release you to the very end.
Skagos' part - 100/100.
To highlight: both tracks.
Total playing time: 24:28 min.
The number of songs: 3.
To tell the truth, Panopticon touched me less than Skagos. More likely, it is connected with the features of Panopticon's sounding. As opposed to the canadians, the music of A. Lundr really sows the apprehension and concern. Nevertheless, it doesn't make the music less beautiful and interesting.
Unfortunately, there are some negative features of Panopticon's musical component. It just sounds rather disharmonic sometimes (especially in the track "Watching You") or too pop ("Seeing"). But, properly, I don't mind so much. I only need the music to bring the pleasure. Panopticon did it successfully. No questions.
Panopticon's part - 90/100.
To highlight: every song.
Here is the example of what every band need to be reputed as great one. This split consists of only true hits. I wish they would continue in the same lines. Both.