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While staying with Finnish black metal, Pantheon of Blood have been bought to my attention by local black metal label Glorious North Productions. Pantheon of Blood are another mysterious band, who have released a demo tape and this 7", which I'm reviewing today.
First of all, the 7" I've got comes on black vinyl and the sleeve it's housed in is top quality. It folds out to reveal the lyrics to both songs on the record. Another nice touch on this record is that to carry on the Latin theme of the record's title, instead of just using the standard side A and B format, Pantheon of Blood have referred to the sides as Sol and Lunae. Sol translates as Sun and Lunae translates as Moon in Latin.`
Side Sol - Overflowing Manifestation
Side Lunae - The Crimson Empress of Night
So starting with Side Sol, Overflowing Manifestation contains deep growls from vocalist Boreas and a mesmerizing instrumental section straight from the off. The staple members Boreas (vocals), Auroch (guitar) and Surya-Ishtara (guitar and bass) are joined by session musicians Wyrmfang and Shu-Ananda who contribute drums and clean guitar respectively.. Underneath those evil vocals, the music is melodic and Pantheon of Blood are able to add some deep, chanting style vocals, which adds another layer to their sound.
On Side Lunae, The Crimson Empress of Night begins with a plucked guitar intro, and this time has a more muddied sound but still one of melody. The lyrics to this and Overflowing Manifestation are sung in English and due to deep growl that utters them, they sound otherworldly. This song has a more ritualistic feel to it, with Boreas even adding to maniacal laughs and growls to it.
This isn't your archetypal hell for leather black metal, it's measured and well thought out. It shows a different side to the genre, one that is ambient and strangely soothing. Again, this is the first time I've heard material by Pantheon of Blood, but I really like it. Thanks to both band a label, the quality of this release is hard to match and I can't wait to discover what they do next.
James - http://stayahead.blogspot.com
Finland is no stranger to the more primordial side of the black metal spectrum, with scores of its prominent artists helping keep alive (or dead, depending on your perspective) the grim savagery of the Old Guard of Scandinavia, newsprint-toned progenitors of evil that are still wildly worshiped to this day. Into this maelstrom of morbidity is thrust Pantheon of Blood, an act formed in 2009, which attempts, successfully I might add, to fuse the primal aesthetics of its parent genre into a broader mysticism that carries it well beyond the reach of mere, predictable derivation. All the while, the EP remains loyal to its blackened roots via the threat generated through its crude, grimy guitar tone and desperate, spacious desolation of the vocals, which are surprisingly manifest in more of a guttural timbre than the rasp or snarl you might normally expect.
As the title implies, Consociatio Solis et Lunae provides a metaphysical examination of the lush, classics concepts of Sun & Moon through the contrasted context of barbaric rhythms guitars, brutal vocals and existential, image-rich lyricism that champions a mythological perspective on the poles of light and darkness. A wonderfully packaged gatefold 7" through Glorious North Productions out of the UK, its complete with colorful paintings of a, surreal, almost psychedelic artwork that stirs both the mind and loins of the beholder. As for its production, the vocals of Boreas prove most resilient, haunted and echoing guttural drudgery that echoes as widely across the fuzz of the retching chords as it its titular celestial bodies span the solar system. Drums are tinny but supportive, bass seems almost an obsequious afterthought, but the real focus is on the domineering of its poignant prose and the callow churning of the guitars which eschew any real notion of complexity in order to promote an antediluvian hypnosis.
It's a little hard to compare Pantheon of Blood to any one of their peers, because where I might the generally slower riffing structures similar to something like Horna, Beherit, Warloghe or Baptism, the addition of the more ominous vocals and the implementation of cackling laughter and soaring, abyssal chants creates this refreshing level of hostility that breeds some distinction and individuality. Clean guitars are incorporated in the first track, "Overflowing Manifestation", while its more doom-laden companion "The Crimson Empress of Night" features a stronger melodic undercurrent and even a bluesy lead (courtesy of Shu-Ananda from the grisly Saturnian Mist and Charnel Winds). I found the latter mildly more impressive, with its slower build of harrowing guitars and the meter of the vocals to the skeleton of the rhythm, but both provided a corpulent, oft frightening tribute to their illuminated subjects.
If there could be any complaint leveled against the music, it's simply that the structure of the guitars doesn't quite match the creative expanse and atmosphere of the vocals or the chants. There is little subtlety or nuance, just a slough of familiar texture and ideas that have manifest through hundreds if not thousands of similar recordings. That said, the dressing slathered upon them through the vocals of Boreas, and the incredibly vulgar mixdown of the music lends it a lot of character that its riffing architecture might otherwise have lacked. Pantheon of Blood broods and elevates with an effective, passionate carnage that will certainly suit fans of like-minded black metal acts, or even those enamored of the more cavernous climes of the current death metal retrospective. The excellent packaging and atmosphere of the music are worth experiencing, though I feel the Finns' music will be better suited to an extended, full-length evolution, with more substance explored through the guitars, and a deeper immersion conjured through a greater duration.
There are so many subgenres of black metal, some close to the roots of the genre and others so mutated they are barely recognizable. Bands like Dimmu Borgir with their transition from symphonic black metal to what is essentially symphonic extreme metal further makes it difficult to categorize bands of that type.
Pantheon of Blood, however, is easy to place - They play straight-to-the-point no bullshit black metal with small hints of depressive black like Burzum and early Satyricon.
Created only 3 years ago Pantheon of Blood haven't released much yet. Other than a self-titled demo from 2010 Consociatio Solis et Lunae is the first effort from the Finnish band. Not only does the EP leave the listener wanting more, it also creates great expectations for more material. Pantheon of Blood really have something to live up to with this debut EP.
The great guitar work comes together with the fantastically grim vocals and well-varied drums in a close to 8 minute blast of genuinely good black metal. The cryptical sound that Pantheon of Blood has picked up so early in their musical carreer creates the perfect amount of gloom for the 2-song EP. All the transitions are smooth and the melodic riffs don't in any way take away focus from the raw outlook, especially because the sublime details only add to the feelings invoked by Consociatio Solis et Lunae.
All in all I guess you could say that Pantheon of Blood is a strong contender in the veritable horde of black metal bands out there. They stand out along other newer acts like Ash Borer by making more intricate black metal with more layers than what is customary for most bands of the genre.
Originally written for http://gouls-crypt.blogspot.com/