Where We’re Going, We Don’t Need RoadsIf you haven’t heard Panopticon’s Kentucky, then stop reading this right now and buy that album. It is essential. A keystone of the present-day metal landscape, and a triumph. When you’re done absorbing that one, come back here.
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Ready? OK. Now, Roads to the North isn’t quite the revelation Kentucky was. That brilliant interplay of traditional protest songs and Appalachian folk with blistering black metal is mostly gone. There is some banjo and fiddle action here, but it’s taken a back burner to epic black metal. Which is no bad thing.
The man can write and perform an epic, you’ve got to give him that. Unfortunately, to me this feels like the greatness of Kentucky but with a key ingredient turned down. Which doesn’t make it fall apart, because Austin Lunn really is an incredible songwriter, but you know—James Evans and cola is just that much better with a lemon wedge. The banjo protest songs were the lemon wedge
Still, as I said, fantastic work, and still quite dynamic. You can pick out some other influences in the mellower parts, like post-Blackwater Park Opeth in “The Long Road Part 2” or Isis in “The Long Road Part 3.” But let’s hope Panopticon fully uses all its strengths on the next release. Then, it’s sure to be another classic.
The Verdict: 4.5 out of 5 stars