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The Book of Lunn (Chapter 2: Nicola, Bartolomeo & Austin) - 90%

Dying_Hope, July 12th, 2020
Written based on this version: 2008, Digital, Independent (Bandcamp)

Prologue

"At the moment I only know this one album, I promise it won't stay that way!", This was the last sentence of my last Panopticon review for Mr. Lunn's self-titled debut album. My journey through Austin Lunn's musical child Panopticon continues now. But instead of plunging directly into the next album "Collapse" I decided to take a look at Panopticon's complete discography. Hmm, apparently I wanted a challenge... Joking aside, Panopticon is the most interesting thing I discovered in Black Metal, so I really feel the need to go through the entire discography one by one. At this point, I only know the debut. I read a lot about Panopticon’s later experiments, but haven’t heard of them yet. As I said: I only know the debut! And it fascinated me so much that I would call it one of the best Black Metal albums ever! In fact, this was the reason why I totally fell in love with Austin's music, and it also forms the basis for my decision to fully develop the Panopticon universe and discover it for myself. So, let's go ahead...

A Memorial

The next chapter in my Panopticon review series "The Book of Lunn" is not an album or EP, it is just a single. A single that was written as a memorial for Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti. And as I stated in my last review: I love it when music makes me learn new things. The topic of Vanzetti and Sacco is not really surprising, as it fits Austin Lunn's anarchist attitude. Sacco and Vanzetti were 2 italian anarchists who wrongly ended up on the electric chair in 1927. Since you, my friend, are reading these lines, I appeal to you to deal with the topic of Sacco and Vanzetti. Interesting and incredibly sad story that perfectly reflects human madness.

And it is exactly this madness that is perfectly conveyed by Lunn's music. Hysterical, aggressive and written in the mother tongue of Sacco and Vanzetti, the song rushes on relentlessly. The feeling of doing justice to Sacco and Vanzetti spreads throughout the whole song. In just over 11 minutes, the injustice done to these two people is denounced. Lunn decided not to depict the entire suffering of the two textually, but to put America in the pillory himself, using the case of Sacco and Vanzetti as an example of corruption and greed. This is underlined with samples that address the crime. From a musical point of view, "La passione de Sacco & Vanzetti" resembles the debut album in certain characteristics. Hysterical, melancholic and startling. The production is a bit more organic than the debut, but this fits very well into the overall picture. Austin has, of course, recorded every instrument himself, this guy is a one-man-band in perfection.

Epilogue

Overall, this single is more than just good. The music on it wants to be heard several times and is not intended as background music. I read a review of this song somewhere that said that the idea was quite good, but the implementation was only underambitious. The reviewer would have liked Austin to have written a song trilogy about the process and the life of Sacco and Vanzetti. This would be more complete for the reviewer in question and would do more honor for the two. Basically, he is right, it would have been a great idea and could have been implemented. But I think that it was not Austin's concern to write a story but to put the injustice itself into the big picture. The Sacco and Vanzetti case was perfect for that and I think it was more than successful. I personally like this song very much and I am also more than enthusiastic about it. I'm excited to see what awaits me next...

Sympathy for the common working people of America - 70%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, July 15th, 2014

If ever there was a Panopticon track that epitomises this USBM band's anarchist philosophy with its sympathy for the ordinary working men and women of America, this single inspired by the tragic case of Italian-American anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeu Vanzetti is it. These two men were arrested and convicted in a controversial 1921 trial in Massachusetts for supposedly murdering two men during a robbery in 1920 in spite of conflicting evidence; the anarchists were executed in 1927. Since then the men's case has been analysed by historians, academics and others as an example of a prejudicial trial biased against the men due to their anarchist beliefs and associations and their being Italian immigrants, and as a case where people's political freedoms granted by the US Constitution were trampled upon by legal and judicial authorities.

Bookended by recordings of spoken dialogue, the second of which is possibly by Vanzetti himself, the song is hard-hitting and aggressive. With a choppy rhythm, crunchy and crushing riffs and stuttery percussion, the opening section of the song is hard to wrap your head around and the sheer confrontational approach knocks you sideways. The song settles into a fast screed of long drawn-out high-pitched guitar tone, more frantic blast-beat drumming and angry gravelly vocals. About halfway through the track there is a spoken-word recording about state oppression. The song continues its rush with very little pause though the pace slows considerably past the 8th minute and the music becomes more sweeping. Some serious lead guitar shredding comes late as the vocals become more desperate in tone, as though heralding that final moment in the anarchists' lives when they were strapped into the electric chair.

A great deal of panic and fear is engendered in the music but perhaps the best part comes with Vanzetti's speech about how he and Sacco will be remembered through their ordeal and wrongful deaths to the accompaniment of tender acoustic guitar melody. The music tries to express something of the two men's suffering and uncertainty about their fate through the trial, the imprisonment, being on death-row, and their inner turmoil at the knowledge that all appeals for their release have been turned down. I don't think the song succeeds all that well in capturing what the men must have felt but that Panopticon man A Lunn did try is to be credited.

I think while the idea of writing something to remember what Sacco and Vanzetti died for has merit, the way it's been realised is limited and listeners have no more idea at the end how much the two men suffered than they did at the beginning. Expanding the song to a concept album or even just an EP of about 4 - 5 songs might have done the subject better justice.