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O Solitude is the name of the classic Pantheist debut. Over the years my general dislike of funeral doom has grown steadily, until at some point (not that long ago) I almost listened to no funeral doom anymore whatsoever. However! There are some exceptions, albums that are so good, that even I embrace it and listen to it frequently. Now this may seem rather odd as O Solitude is pretty much a walking cliché. This is third wave doom in its pure essence, but the execution is of such a high level that it's a real blessing to hear the typical genre clichés, such as the heavy presence of organs. O Solitude offers some slight genre oddities though. Don't Mourn features blast beats and most songs feature some clean chanting. This type of singing gives the album a sort of christian feeling, but it completely matches the music and it's not that it's christian music. It has a religious undertone, nonetheless, hence also the name Pantheist. O Soltude offers some classic, traditional metal as well, a good example would be Time where we get to hear some old school sounding heavy metal followed by an awesome solo until the song ends with an organ solo and up-tempo percussion. Maybe it should review my statement that's a walking cliché?
But perhaps I shouldn't, because Envy Us goes back to core essence of funeral doom. A lifeless tempo, deep growls and heavy use of organs. Typically Pantheist and it works amazing! Envy Us features the distinct growls by Stijn of Until Death Overtakes Me fame. These are some of the most inhuman type of harsh vocals created by a human you'll ever hear. It provides a welcome change and are a real experience to hear as well. Funeral doom has been generating quite a bunch of new bands the last couple of years. Unfortunaly most of them are worthless. As I stated in the beginning, there are some good exceptions, this being one of them. It can act as a real highlight, not only in the specific genre, but also as a doom classic. They combine classic funeral doom with some interesting, experimental touches. Pantheist have always been a fairly experimental band, something which is definetely the case on later material, but they will always remain O Solitude for me and, together with the 1000 Years demo, it comes heavily recommended. O Solitude (and this review) ends with the following appropriate words...
The hour has come...
the angel of death looks me straight in the eyes
like a basilisk
He stands there staring
with empty gaze- like an ancient statue
and tries to break the shield
which guards my empty soul
But all those joyless years
have eventually dried my tears
drained every emotion of my well-worn body
which slowly rots and disintegrates
The angel smells the stench of slow death
disgusted, he disappears into the night
I cut my flesh with my broken nails
enjoy the fluid of life flowing
The cancer has left my heart
and yet I'm more than ever dead...
When I first heard of Pantheist, I had my doubts. A band that mixes heavy classical influences with dark doom metal is almost too good to be true. Fortunately, I was shocked to hear that this mix is done perfectly on O Solitude.
The album starts off slow and heavy, which is to be expected from any doom metal band. After a few dark riffs done with classical overtones, the true beauty that makes this band unique begins. The clean vocals and the synth/piano parts play along excellently with the hollow, dark atmosphere that is created. The classical feel is felt throughout, and almost never ceases. The first song on this album is done beautifully, and all nine minutes of it never become dull.
The next few songs progress nicely, adding to the overall feel of the album. The detuned power chords and harsh vocals keep the sense of heaviness that many bands of this genre overdo. The synth sounds add an almost extra-terrestrial feel, while the piano and resonating organs keep the music droning and depressing. The length of the songs is to be expected, but the boredom of repetitive music is never felt throughout the 10+ minute length songs.
Aside from all the praise that I have for this album, I do have a few qualms with it. A few of the riffs, especially ones that are sped up and have an almost death metal feel, sound redundant and almost cheesy to me. The blast beats that are attempted early in the album sound weak, and don’t have a sense of driving that blasts should. This is the only reason I believe that this album does not deserve a 100% score.
Overall, I enjoyed this album very much and I believe that it is definitely worth a listen by anyone who is a fan of funeral doom or even death metal-influenced doom. O Solitude is never tedious, despite the fact that the tempos are slow and many riffs repeat extensively
The name - Pantheist - covers a Belgian doom band; one of the founders is Kostas from doom-metal.com. He started this band in 2000. Their first release was: 1000 Years, a demo that was noticed by Firebox Records, a young and promising label, which releases mostly doom metal. The label uses the term "avant-garde funeral music" to characterize their music. I guess it's a little bit exaggerated to label Pantheist as an avant-garde group, but funeral music is a term that fits well to the atmosphere of this album. I have rarely heard such a depressive, mournful music. The tracks are built on mercilessly slow doom metal riffs and sad keyboard tunes. Sometimes the monotonous mood is broken by very pleasant and melodious notes, played by the synth. These almost ethereal sounds remind me a little bit of old Tiamat and In The Woods... Several times they accelerate the rhythm in the way My Dying Bride does. A diversified track is the 14 minutes long Don't Mourn, a song, which has strong riffs, dreamy tunes, and even some acoustic guitar themes with (Greek?) folk touches (?). Kostas' monotonous singing style fits pretty good to the music, he also performs death metal growls. The musical direction of Pantheist shows similarity with the Finnish suicidal doom metal masters Scepticism and Unholy, but the guitar work also reminds me of My Dying Bride once in a while. For those who are looking for well-played atmospheric and depressing doom metal, Pantheist could be a very good choice. A promising album and band, that's for sure!
Like so many other bands, funeral doom metal bands in particular, Pantheist has this way of filling every second with some kind of dark atmosphere. Whether it is by the use of keyboards, clean vocals, or other instruments, they just know what they’re doing when it comes to this art form. They find this way to justify that they are one of the best funeral doom metal bands on the face of planet. Granted, some parts of their music can hardly be considered metal. But these parts are just as important as the heavy passages. Just because they’re not loud and heavy, it doesn’t mean they can’t have the same effect. When combined with the slow, depressing riffs, they create something unique, something very well crafted, something that all funeral doom metal fans know as Pantheist.
This 5 track album is one of the best things I’ve ever heard in my life. Next to Worship’s Last Tape Before Doomsday, this has to be my favorite funeral doom metal release ever. It’s just entombs you in darkness, shedding its pain upon you, making you realize what this world can do a person. It just has this way of infecting your mind, your emotions and your heart and leaves you wanting more, all while leaving you alone in the dark without a light. It’s no wonder these guys are considered one of the best funeral doom metal bands ever.
The album starts off with the title track, O Solitude. As soon as the music kicks in at the beginning, you know you’re in for a ride. It’s slow, full of keyboards, clean vocals and growls. What’s not to like about it? It sets the feeling for the rest of the album with the atmosphere that protrudes from the music. After about 3 minutes of very nicely played funeral doom, Pantheist take a new direction. They just stop and then they switch to just a passage featuring a piano and some very nice clean vocals. This is what I was talking about when I said some parts can hardly be classified as metal. Then the synths and keyboards kick in, once again adding to this atmospheric element that these guys execute so well.
Then we get a nice funeral organ playing underneath a very melancholic piano riff with some whispered vocals. I like this a lot. It’s almost like something from a scary movie. Then the music kicks back in with a change. Very nice touch. It’s not just playing the same riff over and over again. That’s another thing I like about Pantheist. Most funeral doom metal bands just play the same riff over and over again for 10 or more minutes. But these guys actually change this, keeping things fresh and not sticking to the idea of monotony.
Then they go back to playing the very nice main riff of the song before switching it up again. They almost completely defy the idea of funeral doom here. This part could almost be considered death/doom. It severely picks up in pace and has a very nice chugging feeling to it. Then we almost get some sort of blast beats! What the fuck? In funeral doom metal? Yep… and it just keeps building up and building up to a climax until at the very last second, it stops. End of the song.
Then the next song, Don’t Mourn, starts. This song is my favorite from the album. It starts off with a very chilling and sad keyboard riff. It sends chills down my spine whenever I listen to it. It’s just simplicity at its finest. And this also continues to build that dark atmosphere around the album. Then slowly, piece by piece, each instrument makes them selves known. The guitar plays this very slow riff using octaves, as the keyboards introduce another passage. Then the bass and the drums both kick in, getting the song going. The clean vocals are probably the most outstanding thing in this song. They do a very good job using harmony vocals here over the slow, depressing music. It just makes you stop what you’re doing and absorbs your complete attention. Then once again, it infects you with its beauty and darkness.
And yet again, the music takes a turn. The metal aspect once again goes out the window as we have the harmony vocals and acoustic guitars playing a very nice little passage only to switch back to the main riff. Another thing I really like about these guys is their ability to write. Their lyrics are written so well. They just have this way of capturing your imagination as the music clouds your heart and soul. Very powerful stuff.
Then what happens next? Once again, the music takes a different direction. We’re subjected to another passage where these guys completely defy the unwritten laws of funeral doom. They begin this riff that almost makes you want to head bang. What the hell? There’s no place for that in funeral doom. But regardless, it fits well. It once again seems like another death/doom moment… or two. Then the tempo picks up again with another good almost death/doom riff. And it even has very impressive growls as well. But I like this. As I mentioned, they find different ways to keep their music from becoming stale and boring.
Then things slow back down with just the keyboards playing the opening riff. Then my favorite part of the song plays. It’s like a mandolin or some similar instrument playing this very simple, yet beautiful lead. I love it when funeral doom metal bands do this. They always find a way to pour every ounce of emotion into their leads. On a good day, this little part of the song is enough to bring me to tears. It just has this way of getting to you. It does what funeral doom should do. Mission accomplished.
Then it goes back to another nice riff overlaid with a nice lead before going back to the main riff of the song. Simply fucking beautiful. This song is a masterpiece and closes out with the acoustic riff that we were introduced to about 10 minutes ago. This is the best song on the album, by far.
The next song, Time, is also very well written. This one was taken from their previous demo. It starts off with a ticking clock, how original! Then we’re once again subject to the funeral organ with nice chanting vocals sung over it. These guys are great at this atmosphere thing, huh? Then they start playing some very nice heavy riff, a little faster than previous main riffs to their other songs, but it’s not a bad thing. This one starts off with growls at the beginning. To be completely honest, I would not be sad at all if these guys never ever used growls in their music. I would be completely satisfied if they stuck to the clean vocals. I find them superior on this album. It’s just incredible.
Then they start changing things up again with the music, going in different directions while still keeping the listener interested. It’s like taking a trip without ever leaving the caverns of your darkened chamber. I like this track. It’s good, it’s consistent, but it’s not as good as the other two songs we’ve just heard. The only saving grace is the soloing near the end of the song with the pounding of the drums. Another thing rarely heard in funeral doom. But it’s a welcomed thing nonetheless. Then we fade out to the next track.
This one, Envy Us, is another song taken from their demo. And this one also features the infamous Stijn Van Cauter from such projects as Beyond Black Void, Until Death Overtakes Me, The Ethereal, I Dream No More, on vocals. This guy has some nice guttural vocals and shows them off on this track. I love what they’ve done. They have nice funeral doom playing in the back, thanks to the organ, the guitars, the bass and drums. But they have low guttural growls, higher growls, and clean vocals all mixed together. Very impressive indeed!
Then they just stop and the piano plays a saddening passage before once again, we’re caught up in the madness and fury of this huge wall of sound. And we’re back once again to the low guttural growls. This is another stand out track for the simple reason that they have created something amazing with the combination of vocal styles. Truly awe inspiring.
Then there’s the last song, which is also the longest song. It clocks in at just over 18 minutes. It starts off like the other songs with an organ and a very slow doom riff. And this song also showcases the clean vocals from the start. I love how well they fit with this style of music. They’re not cheesy or terrible. They were done flawlessly on this song as they were the other four. At about 3 and a half minutes in, the music takes another turn and gives us another good doom riff with some more growls. They switch back and forth between the two vocal styles and they do a nice job of transitioning between them.
Then the music gets a little more upbeat. It’s nothing like the previous songs… just a little faster. We also have nice lead work here as well. A few nice guitar melodies and stuff and then they crank out this very heavy crunching riff. Very nice stuff. Then the music slows to a halt where it’s just the organ and the guitar and bass playing. This is beautifully done and adds to the atmosphere this album projects.
Then at about 14 and a half minutes the music stops all together and we’re just left with some keyboard passages. Nothing incredibly special about this, but then the music and vocals starts to slowly make its way back into the song. As I mentioned earlier, I like the way these guys write their lyrics and this song is no exception. Beautifully done. Slowly the music continues and continues to build up underneath the keyboards. It’s a good way to keep the listeners attention because they have no idea when the music will reach its climax. But sadly, they just keep it going until eventually they just fade out and we are left nothing. Just silence.
Overall, this is one mighty fine piece of work. It’s definitely a standout album in its genre. Get it!!
It's quite difficult for me to explain the impact of Pantheist's O Solitude into words as well as giving classifying the sound justly. They are a funeral doom band at the core but have managed to incorporate so much atmosphere and beauty mixed in with contrasting vocals to make what I consider a one of a kind album in this sub genre of Doom. As slow as their fellow doomsters Skepticism and Thergothon, but they have an ambience and atmosphere to them that really hasn't been seen. In a nutshell you could say taking the Skepticism sound and giving it a much more melodic, better produced and accessible approach to people not as interested in ultra slow music. There is much more to it than that of course. The beauty of it is that this approach gives a more ethereal sound in which the listener can be easily lured in and sent for an incredible journey known as O Solitude without even realizing the hour of musical bliss is over.
The music in general is very slow and simplistic with songs that are rather long. Five songs clocking in at over an hour. Which means many sustained keyboard holds and ringing distorted guitar tones which set an incredible atmosphere for this album and the funeral doom genre in general. There is a slight case of repetition in O Solitude, but in this case its no bad thing. They use mostly slow distortion guitars but they spice things up with a few acoustic parts and one or two nice faster riffs on the album. Don't Mourn comes to mind on that one. The vocals are either growled or spoken with one song having guest blackish vocals.. A very good contrast for vocals and the entire album overall. Each vocal styling is given plenty of chance to impress. The key to their sound and atmosphere in general though is the use of keyboards/synths. It usually ends up being the backbone or melody of most of the music and I can't be more thankful.
O Solitude is another incredible release that will most likely go unnoticed by millions of music fans out there. If you are into keyboards/synth work or just getting into funeral doom metal, this is an excellent band to check out. Its not for everyone granted. People who like their metal fast should look elsewhere. But for people who'd appreciate very slow, drawn out compositions this is for you!!!! Lets just hope Pantheist can match this on their next album! :)
Favorites : O Solitude, Dont Mourn, Curse the Morning Light