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Pantheon I - From The Abyss They Rise

Pantheon I
From The Abyss They Rise
by Julius "Dreadheart" Mikkelä at 19 September 2014, 11:25 PM

PANTHEON I is an anti-religious Extreme Metal ensemble from Oslo, Norway, formed in 2002 and has since then released 3 full-length albums. They play a peculiar style of Extreme Metal that is part Blackened Death, part Melodic Death and part Progressive Metal with some nuances of Symphonic and Technical Death Metal – featuring a full-time cello player(APOCALYPTICA would be so proud). Needless to say, there’s a lot going on when PANTHEON I starts playing, and it’s all to their benefit as far as I see it.

Though “From The Abyss They Rise” may at first glance seem like it, it is in fact not a full-length studio album. Rather, it is a 5-track EP that incorporates PANTHEON I’s first demo album “Pantheon MMIII”. The sad news is that the demo is not a re-recording, but the actual demo as it was back in 2003 with everything horrendous that a demo entails. That being said, it’s a nice gesture and as long as you’re aware of it then the transition won’t make you question your sanity or damage the EP, which will be the main focus of this review.

The EP opens up in unusual fashion with its strongest track, “Pariah”, which introduces PANTHEON I’s rather unusual sound and style (think KEEP OF KALESSIN meets NE OBLIVISCARIS) with a song that has both furious verses, a powerful chorus and a very Progressive middle part while being notably Melodic for a, at core, Blackened Death Metal song. “Martyr” picks off fluently where “Pariah” left off and kicks up the pace to real Black Metal levels of blasts – which is intriguingly offset by Mediterranean or maybe even Flamenco-styled guitar sweeps and a slowed down cello-lead part toward the second half. “I’ll Come Back As Fire” is the black sheep of the EP, as it is really just a rather boring Black Metal-esque riff played over and over with no real purpose; there’s no chorus, there are no Progressive turns in the music or in the song structure, there are no Experimental of enjoyable instrumental parts and the little change of pace you get doesn’t help. The follow-up “What Lies Beneath” suffers from a similar issue, but manages to avoid being dull by being more Melodically and Symphonically driven as opposed to a just a mere riff on repeat. The title track and final track for the EP, “From The Abyss They Rise”, is a welcome return to shape by being a solid mix of both “Pariah”’s more Progressive structure and “Martyr”’s more straight-forward assault. All-in-all the EP’s not perfect but very impressive, and if nothing else it just feels so great to hear something a little different for once that I can accept the two somewhat underwhelming tracks that take up the middle of the EP.

As to the compilation demo that tags along, it’s a very impressive demo by every measure, but it can’t add anything to the album as a whole; the EP’s superior songs, production and sound quality leaves the demo in a very dark shadow. Like I said, it’s a nice touch to throw in a demo for those who want to hear the band at its conception, but it simply can’t compare and the sound has evolved so far that it doesn’t even sound like the same band anymore – something I very much don’t mind. That being said, if there is one song to check out from the demo it’s definitively “A Shadow”, which is an interesting little Jazz-structured piece of madness that I found really interesting although not necessarily enjoyable (I have a negative thing for bad sound quality).

So my final verdict of PANTHEON I’s “From The Abyss They Rise” is that it’s a really good EP that hints at greatness, but can’t get the whole way through. The definitive stand-out is “Pariah”, which is a truly great song, but the rest either fall a little behind or falls too far behind to not have it impact the EP as a whole. I don’t count in the demo in my verdict, because if I did I’d rate this lower, but I think it’s a nice and welcome touch. In the end, I can recommend giving it a listen if you enjoy Extreme or Black Metal with a Progressive twist, but really the thing that makes PANTHEON I a winner in my book is their sound: It’s so absurdly rare for me to hear a band that actually sounds a little unlike much of what I’ve already heard that I can’t help but feel impressed, and I really endorse the evolution of this band’s sound from a mere Black Metal band with a twist to something that verges on being unique – it’s not there quite yet, but if they keep it up they’ll get there. And how often can you say ‘unique’ in Metal these days?

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Pariah
2. Martyr
3. I’ll Come Back As Fire
4. What Lies Beneath
5. From The Abyss They Rise
6. Core Of The Soul
7. Thus Spake The Nightspirit
8. Transparent
9. Is This A Prophecy?
10. Myopic Dark Eyes
11. A Shadow
12. Impious Spirit
13. Enter The Pantheon
Lineup:
Kvebek - Vocals
Sagstad - Guitars
Aethyris McKay - Guitars, Clean Vocals
Stavenes - Bass
Mads G. - Drums
Live Julianne – Cello
Record Label: Non Serviam Records
     


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