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Pantheon I is an interesting beast. The somewhat bourgeois combination of a classical cellist and plain font logo combined with raw antichristian imagery strikes its closest parallel with Akercocke on a purely aesthetic basis. The mental portrait of Satanists who immerse themselves in a wingback and dig into some Nietzsche, rather than throw shit at each other and burn churches comes to mind at first; a band closer to Hitchens than Vikernes.
However, musically the expedition is a very different one to Akercocke. I will for the first time in recollection disagree with the metal archives classification of this band, and suggest that Pantheon I lie closer to death metal than black metal; perhaps blackened death if you will. However this blackened death is not of the typical sort, and infuses the blistering speed and technicality of death metal with the expressive chordage of black, rather than the other way round which seems to be the case of so much modern blackened death.
The music is intense but emotive, with blasts and speedy tremolo picking often being underpinned by tasteful cello melodies. The vocals are stock black metal and are generally uneventful, aside from the appearance of Katatonia’s Jones Renkse on the mic halfway through the track Ascending, delivering a typically haunting series of verses in what is an album highlight.
The drum performance throughout is exceptional, with unrelenting but organic blast beats dominating most of the playtime. When the music slows, acoustic guitars appear to play alongside the band, rather than the traditional acoustic stop-start pitfall that many ambitious bands fall foul of.
The electric guitar unfortunately sounds weak, and drier than a nun’s... towel. This is adequate when the band are playing in a rapid tremolo picked black metal style, or when digging in with big chords, but when the players attempt more fiddly, single note riffs, the poor tone shines through painfully.
Aside from the general sameyness of the songs, there is little else negative to say about the music, however the lyrics are a different story. For a band with a seeming refined palette, and a uniquely classy sound going for them, the lyrics are the same old atrocious antichristian vitriol that has been done a billion times before.
Take a look at this one:
"Tear it down, the will of God
Burn the cross,
Release the seven sins of man,
Burn the cross"
Now, the only way that I think you can legitimately get away with antichristian lyrics these days is via the following schools of thought:
1) The school of Deicide: The lyrics are a joke, no one cares; try to fit “fuck” and “Jesus” in as many times as possible: Notable graduates: Aeon, Vital Remains, a billion others.
2) The Classy school: Spend years researching the occult and obscure philosophies. Use words that no one understands like “Verdelet” or “Bathykolpian” : Notable graduates: Akercocke, Behemoth.
3) The political school: Act like Jesus didn’t exist (which he probably didn’t) and talk about how religion has ruined society. Notable graduates: Immolation, Nevermore.
Now Pantheon I seem to be studying at the school of Deicide, while combining this with a refined and classy aesthetic. It just doesn't gel at all, and creates a strange cringe factor when listening to the generally very good music. You can’t go around writing your band name in Times New Roman while writing lyrics like a slightly more articulate Glen Benton, and it is for this reason than I must dock more percentage points than I would like to.
But wordage aside, this album is pretty good and certainly unique. If you want a new take on blackened death metal, and aren’t too bothered by poor lyricism then this might thrill you.
When anyone sees a band genre categorized under the term "Black Metal" and the origin is Norway he expects good music for Black Metal is one of Norway's famous exports. Well that what happened to me when I was surfing the pages of MA, I saw this band and I wanted to give the guys a shot and see what they got, so I downloaded this album and started listening to it.
The issue is: there's nothing could be named a song in the whole album, I mean what really gets you into a song is the good rhythm and that's what this album lacks the most. You can't tell where exactly a song starts or ends, despites the fact that there are no solos are worthy of being mentioned.
Let's talk more music, as I said before, guitars are loud, distortion is good, and that really makes it a great mid-finger for anyone who listens to this album because these guitars are not being used properly, for a while I thought that those guys are just trying to make noise, not a normal noise, but a real annoying noise. Drums are so normal and I guess that any drummer in the whole world can make it, there's really nothing good to be mentioned here too. And for the violin thing, I don't know what the hell can a violin do in a black metal music, yes there's a hearable violin sound in the album, but if you didn't know that they have a violin player you might thought that these sounds are keyboards, which are more common among some sub-genres of Black Metal.
The vocals is better than any other instrument used in this album, still, not good enough or let's just say, there're much better nowadays. And for the clean vocal in the 4th song "Serpent Christ" I just want to say that Dimmu Borgir experiment in Black Metal is not good and clean vocals are not for Black Metal.
For the lyrics, unfortunately the band failed here too, the lyrics are so weak and not suitable for Black Metal by any means and miserably lacks the proper rhyme, the only thing related to Black Metal in those lyrics is the "Anti-Christ" attitude, and lyrics in this album are so commercial and so common and a great disappointment when being compared to their titles.
In the end, why 49 out of 100? Well, the cover art work is good and as I said before the chosen titles for the album as a whole and for the songs are good too and there's, of course, the effort those guys have given throughout the process of creating this album, and I think a greater effort must be gave to reach the gates of Norwegian Black Metal.
Pantheon I's "Worlds I Create" is my first taste of this Norwegian classily-played and classily-produced black metal band's output and within seconds of opener "Myself Above All" I'm left picking my chin off the floor from the speed, technicality and tightness being blasted from all sides around me. You see some bands favour the tactic of bringing in the listener gently but in the case of Pantheon I, well this is alarm-clock-metal; you ain't gonna be sleeping through this in the morning even with the heaviest of bangovers.
Mixing the blastbeat-infused hyper-speed of Keep Of Kalessin, and the err, blastbeat-infused hyper-speed of 1349, the start to "Worlds I Create" is a most confident one. But let's not get our knickers in a twist and condemn Pantheon I's third full length as a one-trick pony as right throughout the album the band demonstrate a sound ability to mix the speeds up and stop this album from being another BM record stick in one gear. One of Pantheon I's selling points is the cello work of Live Julianne Kostøl. A full-time cellist may sound an odd concept in a band such as this but Live's work has the effect of not only adding a sobriety to the flashing chaos exposed around her but also gives the music a spiritual connection to a different era and feel. You see, "Worlds I Create" is clean, clear and concise (if you know Keep Of Kalessin you'll know what I mean) and this modernity sits awkwardly with the gothic feel of the cello, especially as often she is playing at moments when the remainder of the band are near full speed.
To the credit of all within Pantheon I, like the well-effected stirring of speeds, the cello is limited to it's usage as to not become a gimmick, suggesting the band have given thought to it's integration and on the basis of this they are a band worth your attention. However, after a few listens to "Worlds I Create" I am not being fully sucked into what is on offer. Perhaps it is the strong resemblances to the layered dynamism of Emperor, a classic band whom I respect more than particularly like, but the key ingredient required to tip this album from being 'good' to 'great' has got lost somewhere in it's creation. "Ascending" features the proud vocals of Jonas Renske (Katatonia), "Defile The Trinity" and "Bannlyst" are all strong songs, ones that may come to grow on me in time, but completion of the album brings the thoughts of having heard similarly accomplished bands before without ever rushing to replay their album(s) over and over. Pantheon I are a band for someone without doubt, but "Worlds I Create" just does not quite push my button.
Originally written for Rockfreaks.net.