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Panopticon / Wheels Within Wheels > It's Later than You Think > Reviews
Panopticon / Wheels Within Wheels - It's Later than You Think

The Book of Lunn (Chapter 4: Later That Night...) - 58%

Dying_Hope, July 13th, 2020
Written based on this version: 2009, CD, Lundr Records (Limited edition, CD-R)


Immediately after I finished my last Panopticon review "The Book of Lunn (Chapter 3: The Master and the Apprentice)", I wanted to write the next chapter for this series and dive into the next full-length album "Collapse". Well, happy too early, because just before I wanted to start I noticed that there was another split album between me and "Collapse". It's always like that with splits: Some songs of 2, 3 or 4 bands are put on the same album and this can be confusing. Because in most cases the bands are musically very different even if they come from the same genre. This usually gives the impression of a compilation that you got in every heavy metal magazine for free. It may of course be that new bands are discovered for you, but most of the material contained on splits are usually not one of the best works of a band. However, exceptions confirm the rule!

To be fair, there may be splits that captivates you immediately, and I've heard of a handful of great Panopticon splits. But most of the splits I've heard from different bands so far are mostly b-sides, live versions, remix songs or something else. This does not mean that they are bad, but in most cases there is a loss of quality compared to a full album. But let's not talk around the bush, let's get to the basics.

White Light Rains on Haymarket Square

Let's start with Wheels Within Wheels before we get to Panopticon. "Beginning" starts with a melodious and dreamy melody that cries longingly. This melancholic melody runs through the whole song, which seems more like an intro to me. Due to the low-fi production, the drums unfortunately take a back seat. Too bad because a little more pressure would have done the effect really well. The guitar stops and turns into noise between 3:48 and 4 minutes. It definitely has a nice hypnotic effect on me even if I am not completely carried away by the built-up mood.

"White Light Rains Down on ..." looked really cool at first. It builds on a very melodic riff that varies a little from time to time. The medium-fast drumming gives the entire first section of the song a yearning note. A sample starts at the 5-minute mark and the song becomes more melancholic and dissonant. A screeching sound is heard and from this point the song got on my nerves completely, although it still felt wistful and sad. So far there has been no singing, and the screeching melody kept coming back until the song went into total noise. After ten minutes a lonely guitar sings its requiem. At this point I realized that the song was over and I was disappointed because the euphoria I felt at the beginning turned into an absolute pain. Unfortunately, the potential was completely wasted. The way I see it, Wheels Within Wheels are really not my thing. I would not deny their talent because I may just not understand their music.

Panopticon also does not add any groundbreaking but really successful material to their discography. "...Speaking..." is an absolute highlight in the acoustic version. It sounds like a completely new song, but the practiced ear recognizes that it is actually "...Speaking..." that has been rearranged here. This ten minute atmospheric piece is slow and mostly relies on haunting dark americana vibes. "The Ghosts of Haymarket Square" shows Panopticon in a more raw black metal phase with great melodies in the middle of the song. There's a lot of darkness inside this tunes, it feels very earthy but nonetheless quite raw. The low-fi production fits the atmosphere very well, I am blown away. 


Somehow it is paradoxical that I can only write a small paragraph about Panopticon but two paragraphs for Wheels Within Wheels. This may be because I find nothing to complain about the Panopticon songs, but Wheels Within Wheels is absolutely not my case. If only "...Speaking..." and "The Ghosts of Haymarket Square" were included then (again) a close 90% would have come out, but with the Wheels Within Wheels songs it is unfortunately only 58%.

They did a lot Better for the Second Coming - 64%

Thumbman, December 18th, 2016

Heh, Panopticon splits can be a bit of a mixed bag. I've previously stated that splits are an integral part of Panopticon's discography, and I stick by that (the one with Skagos is crucial), but it doesn't mean they're all good. While Panopticon does overshadow Wheels Within Wheels, this definitely isn't Lunn's greatest work. Sure it is early on, but the debut was a hell of a lot better than this. However, he does have some cool ideas and this shows his bluegrass side gestating. Wheels Within Wheels don't do a great job here. While they did a fantastic job on the second split these two bands teemed up for, it's apparent that on the first one they haven't quite figured it out yet.

An early example of bluegrass from Austin, his side starts with "Speaking". If bluegrass had a doom equivalent, this would be it. This ten minute atmospheric piece is slow and mostly relies on haunting dark americana vibes (definitely some gothic country in there). "The Ghosts of Haymarket Square" sees Panopticon still in its raw crusty black metal phase. There's a lot of clamor to this, it's very earthy and busy and quite raw and low-fi. There's a lingering atmosphere hiding behind the raw veneer, some melody and even vague hints at bluegrass in that big atmospheric break. It's a relatively cool song, but as far as Panopticon songs though, he has routinely done a lot better.

Wheels Within Wheels are equally raw, but there's not real oomph to the rawness. They play a very atmospheric style of black metal and they just really can't pull it off. On the surface, it's not particularly bad, but it's all style and no substance. There's very little in the way of songwriting and the atmosphere isn't fully formed enough for it to succeed solely because of it. While listenable, it has very little staying power and is a bit of a mess, if not sort of cool in parts.

Dedicated fans of Panopticon will probably at least somewhat get something out of this, but there's also no harm in overlooking this. The second split these guys did together is far more essential. It's pretty cool that this came in a zine with a patch - would have loved to have gotten my hands on this for that alone. The music, while possessing some interesting sections here and there, hardly shows either band on top of their game.