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Hellbore - Panopticon Award winner

by Tom Hanno at 21 March 2022, 3:46 AM

HELLBORE is an online Metal group; well, group doesn't accurately describe them, as the band is composed of just two guys, multi-instrumentalist Charlie Munro, and vocalist Chris Witby. The cool thing is that these two men are able to create music that is as heavy as a ten-ton hammer, progressive in its execution, and that is also as incredible as anything you're likely to hear from any full band project.

As I said, the sounds HELLBORE creates are massive despite being just two musicians living across the ocean from each other. They also hit upon several of my preferred genres, with influences of Thrash, Tech-Death, Progressive, Death and other fine Heavy Metals helping to make up their overall sound. Their sophomore album was just released on March 18th, and “Panopticon” is one of the best ones to come out in 2022 so far.

I was instantly amazed as I gave this album my first listen, as the amount of talent I was hearing was mind-blowing. Chris has some of the greatest vocals that I have ever heard, and the instrumentation that Charlie laid down is equally as impressive. Now, add in crystal clear production work and you'll have an incredibly enjoyable musical experience.

I'm going to begin by talking about the last three tracks, "Panopticon I” thru “III,” which take up about 20 minutes of the album. All three are examples of everything that Hellbore has to offer, as well as each having its own personality too.

"Panopticon I" opens with a solo flute, which reminds me of the beginning of an old Cathedral song. Then we get an epic sounding orchestral piece, which has Black Metal meets Lord of the Rings vibes, before dropping into some of the heaviest music in the album. What I love about this first piece is that it takes all the influences that this band has and uses parts of all of them to create music that is interesting, diverse, and balls to the wall heavy; it also showcases the amount of vocal styles that Chris has to choose from, which are many.

"Panopticon II" opens in a similar way, but is more subtle than its predecessor, utilizing feel over epicness to create the perfect vibe for the track. That goes for when the guitars enter as well, until the verse kicks in anyway, then the vocals really take things to the next level. Chris is a monster vocalist, and at times he reminds of the way Randy Blythe sounds, while sounding demonic at others. I'm really happy that I was asked to review this, as I wasn't aware of either man, but am now quite happy that I have.

"Panopticon III" takes an even different approach during its intro, as it's very melodic and progressive, reminding me of Dream Theater and Devin Townsend simultaneously. This is what I meant when I said they each had their own personality, and even though all three songs get heavy, they never lose the things that keep them separated from each other. As per the norm, Chris' vocals are mind-bending and Charlie writes music that is sonically brutal, yet eternally entertaining in its execution. It's like these guys know exactly what we want to hear as metalheads and deliver it with a maniacal attention to perfection in sound.

The rest of the album is no less amazing, with standout tracks including, "All Men Are Created Evil", "Angel Slayer", and "Necrocracy". So head on out to your favorite musical sites, and wrap your ears around this stellar musical accomplishment.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 8
Production: 10

4 Star Rating

1. Libertus
2. All Men Are Created Evil
3. Angel Slayer
4. Terror Eyes
5. Necrocracy
6. Panopticon I
7. Panopticon II
8. Panopticon III
Charlie Munro  – All Guitars, Bass, Mixing and Production
Chris Witby – Vocals 
Record Label: Independent


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Edited 05 February 2023

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