Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Vestiges / Panopticon: Vestiges / Panopticon (2013)

Splitting Vinyl

The Flenser is always out there giving it away for free in the hopes that people will feel compelled to buy the vinyl. It seems to be working out well for them. Among those releases is a Colin Marston-mastered split from Kentucky’s Panopticon and D.C.’s Vestiges.

Panopticon released the phenomenal Kentucky last year, earning the number three spot on my end-of-year list with a brilliant combination of black metal, Appalachian folk, and miner protest songs. Vestiges, on the other hand, doesn’t even have a Metal Archives page, so I went into that one blind.

The split begins with 18 minutes from Vestiges. “VII” is basically a five minute intro with atmospheric bass and cymbals, and a simple guitar melody. “VIII” is an epic of the same kind of black metal that was on Kentucky when the banjo was silent, melancholy and furious all at once, tremolo-picked riffs and blastbeats trading off with quiet shimmering guitars.

That leads well into “A Letter,” which is more of the same general M.O. It’s surprisingly quiet at the beginning, but the tension created by the memorable if non-destructive guitars paired against an angry vocal diatribe is compelling. After a quieter interlude, the drums blast in with extreme aggression and a despairing guitar solo takes it to the end. The other two Panopticon tracks present different strategies. The beginning of “Eulogy,” for some reason, reminds me quite a bit like the more subdued of Killing Joke’s mid-to-late-80’s synthpop, but with indistinct rasping vocals. How it accomplishes that without synths, I’m not exactly certain. It strips all of that vibe away by the end in favor of a purer form of aggression. Finally, “Collapse and Die” (a Suicide Nation cover) is the most straight-forward, raw and raucous black metal assault I’ve heard yet from the band, but it does have a very Kentucky interlude before it completely rips out your throat.

All in all, it’s not the next Panopticon masterpiece, but it does present some interesting possibilities for what that might look like, and serves as an introduction to a band Panopticon fans might well appreciate. The Panopticon side is, however, far and away superior.

The Verdict: 3.5 out of 5 stars

No comments:

Post a Comment