PANOPTICON | WALDGEFLÜSTER – Split CD

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Nordvis Produktion ‎/// NVP039, Bindrune Recordings ‎/// BR035
Release date: March 11, 2016

DigiPack

1 | WALDGEFLÜSTER – Traumschänder | 12:20
2 | WALDGEFLÜSTER – Norwegian Nights | 3:23
3 | PANOPTICON – Håkan's Song | 12:35
4 | PANOPTICON – Trauerweide II | 4:41

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#germanblackmetal #usbm #rabm #atmosphericblackmatal

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Review – invisibleoranges.com

Given the genre’s praise for the individual, the concept of companionship, family, and black metal should ideologically mix about as well as gin and milk. From Burzum’s night clad "Dunkelheit" (or "Burzum," for the initiated) to the lonesome coffin cries of Darkthrone's "Under a Funeral Moon", black metal’s second wave onward has been fodder for the antisocial. However, where would we be without our friends? Our family?

Jimmy Stewart’s Clarence very eloquently wrote, "No one is a failure who has friends," and it’s true. Even the most evil, blasphemous black metal practitioner has someone at their left hand, but interpersonal relationships outside of a ritual sense seem to still be taboo for the most part.

Breaking the silence, Panopticon’s A Lunn spoke of his longtime friendship with Falls of Rauros in their 2014 split, the aptly titled Brotherhood. Two years later, the talk of companionship with one’s comrades and family is silent again (outside of certain Fullmoon Productions forums inside jokes). Lucky for us, Lunn’s family is wide and his friendships remain ever close. In this new split with Germany’s Waldgeflüster, we are given a heavy dose of passionate, heartfelt atmospheric black metal - some of the best I’ve heard from either group.

I’ve always felt the strongest split releases either feature either 1) two extremely different genres, one acting as a foil to the other, or 2) two strong, individually defined examples of a specific subgenre of music. In this case, both Waldgeflüster and Panopticon offer their own takes on melodic, progressive black metal expanse: odes to their own kinship and kin.

Waldgeflüster opens with the lengthy "Der Traumschänder." Fueled by adrenaline, heartache, and distress, mastermind Winterherz’s newly expanded lineup whirls through nearly 13 glorious minutes of dramatic black metal euphoria. Searing, desperate, and beautiful, "Der Traumschänder" tastefully weaves distant influences into a beautiful, cohesive form. A faithful cover of Panopticon’s "Norwegian Nights", though painted in Waldgeflüster’s unique shade of grey, closes the German’s half - a sincere dedication to the kinship between A Lunn and Winterherz and the memory of drinking in the Norwegian mountains manifested in a delicate ballad.

Though I tend to pick and choose favorites out of Panopticon records, Lunn’s talent is unquestionable and I can’t help but get goosebumps at those right moments. "Håkan's Song" is one of those moments stretched at length. Dedicated to his firstborn, Håkan, this song is an affirmation of a father’s love for his son, and the passion he feels is more than adequately communicated. Emerging at a full gallop, Lunn’s strong melodic sense builds upon a strong black metal core with elements of Rapture-styled dark metal, post-hardcore, and melodic death metal, all before dwindling into a delicate, soft, almost joyous lullaby. You can even hear recordings of an infant Håkan cooing; I don’t think black metal is really prepared for such a stark, emotionally nude moment of tenderness. The song ends with a dramatic, bombastic climax: Lunn proclaims, "All I hope for is to watch you grow."

Panopticon closes with his own tribute to Waldgeflüster: a cover of their "Trauerweide II", but with his own uniquely Appalachian folk twist, utilizing banjo and slide guitar.

The union of Panopticon and Waldgeflüster is a survey of the beauty and rage of black metal in the new millennium. I tend to use the "two sides of the same coin" phrase when it comes to splits like these, but these two acts manage to maintain their own identities while simultaneously making minor tributes to each other in a way which is both challenging and heartfelt. This salute to Lunn and Winterherz’s lasting friendship, as well as Lunn’s adoration for his son, is a graceful ideological challenge: you don’t have to be alone, it is okay to embrace the love of others. It’s 2016 - we don’t have to be nihilists. At least not all the time.