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Pan.Thy.Monium > Dawn of Dreams > Reviews
Pan.Thy.Monium - Dawn of Dreams

Muddled brilliance - 73%

robotniq, December 28th, 2020

Pan.Thy.Monium were the most progressive death metal band of their time, maybe of all time. They were the only death metal band from the early 1990s to qualify as 'avant-garde'. They were the only band from the scene to experiment with free jazz saxophone, and one of few to use keyboards to this extent. Their music had a spontaneity and freedom that probably came from Dan Swanö's presence. As a budding producer, I presume he had access to good quality studio equipment and studio time, removing some of the logistical difficulties that plague most bands.

The band made one line-up change between their previous recordings and this debut album. Swanö enlisted the help of his elder brother Dag (credited here as Äag); a multi-instrumentalist with considerable talent. As a guitarist, he is comfortable with non-metal styles such as jazz and funk. His soloing is distinct from (and superior to) most metal players. He doesn't 'shred' in the traditional metal sense. He concentrates on playing clean notes, almost like someone who has listened to too much Steely Dan. As a saxophonist, he demonstrates an interest in avant-garde and free jazz. I presume he was inspired by Ornette Coleman and Albert Ayler to an extent. His contribution to Pan.Thy.Monium was significant.

The band's experimentation is clearest on the album's first track, a 22 minute song that swallows half the album. Dag begins with a wobbly saxophone intro. Within a minute, he has embarked on an impeccable guitar solo before giving way to his brother's moody keyboard melodies. The song maintains a sinister, mystic momentum until 8:10, but then it drifts. The rest of the song is a series of moments. Brilliant things happen; Dag's second solo, more saxophone, some superb blast-beats over clean guitar, but it sounds more like a medley than a song. It doesn’t have the breeziness of proper jazz, where musicians tend to wander off-piste and return to a central melodic refrain. It also lacks the freedom of avant-garde improvised acts (such as Faust). The track doesn't work as a whole, but it shows how far Pan.Thy.Monium are willing to go.

The remaining tracks vary in their effectiveness. Some revisit the death/doom vibe of their demo (Track #5 originally appeared on the demo). Track #2 is an unapologetic blend of Sabbath and Candlemass riffs, one of which sounds like the main riff from "Into the Void". The outro is a reworked version of the outro from the demo. It indicates what the band might have sounded like if they had used saxophone to augment crushing, repetitive chords, similar to the dub/metal/jazz soundscapes of Scorn or Bill Laswell. Track #6 is the most exciting song and it blends grindcore, explosive saxophone, keyboards and the grooviest death metal riffs. Track #3 is awful, with an irritating melodic hook that would fit better on a lounge/hip-hop record than on a death metal one.

Experimental music is inconsistent by nature. Some experiments succeed, others fail. This makes a cluttered, uneven yet interesting album with moments of genius. There are better, more consistent progressive death metal records from the time ("Ashore the Celestial Burden", "Prodigal Sun"), but Pan.Thy.Monium reached deeper into the experimental void. "Dawn of Dreams" is no masterpiece, I prefer the tighter "Dream II" EP, but this album is too good to ignore.

Avant-garde art - 100%

Hames_Jetfield, December 26th, 2020

A perfect example that death metal knows absolutely no boundaries. Just pay attention. Blasts - ✓, doom metal slowdowns - ✓, guitar solos reminiscent of Pink Floyd - ✓, illegible growl/harsh - ✓, some jazz - ✓, saxophone - ✓, themes where keyboards come to the fore - ✓. In short, eclecticism beyond belief. What's even more interesting is only some of the attractions that "Dawn Of Dreams" hides. Yeah, Pan.Thy.Monium is one of those projects where calling it progressive or avant-garde might be, hmm...imprecise? The music that was on the debut album of Derelict, Mourning, Äag, Winter and Day DiSyraah was so unusual and unusual that even today it causes no less problems than when it was released. Well, on "Dawn..." it's so difficult and inaccessible that only a very small group of listeners can understand here the ingenuity of five Swedes.

The entire longplay is - professionally defining - the higher stage of the avant-garde. The Swedes mix here between prog, death, doom and non-metal influences. Just listen to the epic opening track of "Dawn Of Dreams" (untitled, like all of them). Already at the beginning, we get nearly 22 minutes of incredibly unconventional music. Not only that, the quintet, above the classical set of instruments (guitar/bass/drums), decided to use instruments with metal that are not commonly related (including the mentioned saxophone, but also violin and keyboards). And it's not a matter of chance or being too avant-garde, with Pan.Thy.Monium such a combination perfectly sticks together and gives the music an incredible variety (and paradoxically, non-metal influences attract attention the most!).

In the first track, almost everything surprises, even the simpler patents, such as a ticking clock, clean guitars, declamations, various strange knocks or other distorted sound effects. The way the band uses these variations is amazing, even spatial (as the cover might suggest). But this is not the end of the breakouts, there are also crazy Äag guitar solos (and DiSyraah bass solos too!), the mentioned jazz inserts or even black metal patents (especially with blasts). And this is just the beginning of the album!

The following songs are much shorter (usually from three to five minutes), although it does not mean that there is less going on in them. They note, among others sensational use of the violin ("III"), saxophone ("VII"), tribal sounds ("II") or a very interesting play with rhythm ("IV"). Another important thing is, of course, the atmosphere of the album, I have the impression that it is perfectly suited to the cover and title of the album. Such a "vibe" of clouds and various abstractions is given to us here for the entirety of 44 minutes - merit to the keys, but also the intricacy of non-metal inserts.

The guys from Pan.Thy.Monium created a very unique and innovative music on their full debut, without limiting themselves to specific styles, perfectly diverging from many known standards at the time, thus creating a completely new quality. Anyway, time has shown that "Dawn Of Dreams" is one of the best and most interesting avant-garde cds in extreme playing, and at the same time unsurpassed and...a little forgotten.

Originally on:

Strangest Death Metal I've Heard - 100%

Paskkal, March 6th, 2006

First off; I absolutely love this CD. There is nothing I would want to change in it and I believe it is truly a masterpiece. None of the 7 tracks in the CD have names, and there are no lyrics, simply the title on the front. I like the fact that the songs have no titles because it adds to the spontaneous sound that is pan.thy.monium. Swano claims to use his vocals in an instrumental way, without any lyrics and I think they sound very good to be improvised. The first track is over 20 minutes long and starts with clocks and strange fluttery saxophone sounds, but soon the guitars kick in and it starts off all progressive metal with melodic guitars and keys thrown in the mix. Soon it takes a more death metal style which is the most dominant of pan.thy.monium, with guttural vocals and heavy guitar riffs mixed with ambient keys. My personal favorite of this album is track 02 which is quite possibly my favorite song of all time, I just never get tired of it. This CD is definitely worth looking up and listening to, because pan.thy.monium have a truly unique sound and I think this album shows it in its purest form.