Album Review – Pantheist / Seeking Infinity (2018)

After almost a decade, this London-based Funeral Doom institution returns to their musical roots with a 60-minute cinematic journey through obscure and atmospheric landscapes.

A pantheist is someone who believes that God and the universe are the same, or in other words, that “All Is God”, as pantheism literally means “God Is All” (pan means all and Theos means God when translated from Greek). Brought to life in the year 2000 in Antwerp, Belgium by vocalist and keyboardist Kostas Panagiotou, but currently based in London, England, the dark and vile Progressive/Funeral Doom Metal entity known as Pantheist, one of the standard bearers of the Funeral Doom sound, is among us to prove that “All is Doom” with their brand new opus entitled Seeking Infinity, their fifth full-length album and their first release in seven years. Seeking Infinity is a 60-minute cinematic journey through Funeral Doom landscapes, a decisive return to Pantheist’s musical roots whilst still incorporating the atmospheric and progressive elements that have become an integral part of their sound over the years.

The long journey leading to the creation of this album started all the way back in the summer of 2012, when Kostas announced to his then band members an outline for a new concept album. A lot of things have changed since then and the concept and sound have evolved dramatically until the creation of the album; however, despite the changes, the philosophy behind this concept album and its singular purpose have remained intact. Recorded, mixed and engineered by drummer Daniel “Dan” Neagoe (Shape of Despair, Clouds) and enhanced with the enchanting artwork of the band’s visual artist Cheryl, the album sounds and looks both modern and familiar, surely to fill with nostalgia fans of old-school traditional Funeral Doom/Death Metal, while also drawing to its mystical sound new followers for the years to come.

An ominous intro named Eye of the Universe keeps growing in intensity, with an eerie and somber narration setting the stage for the sluggish, obscure and visceral Control and Fire, a lesson in Funeral Doom with Kostas sounding demonic with both his deep growls and his phantasmagorical keys, while Dan keeps the rhythm as lugubrious as it can be with his slow and potent beats, being effectively supported by Frank Allain and his slashing riffs, with the music flowing darkly and smoothly until 500 B.C. to 30 A.D.- The Enlightened Ones comes crushing with its beyond atmospheric start on the piano, complemented by its cryptic words darkly declaimed by Kostas (“You can run, but you can’t hide from the quiet flow of time / the dark tentacles of fate push you towards your destiny / and when you think you are free to live your life as you please / you’ll find you’re nothing but a pawn of history / There is a fire, a desire in my head / eat my battered body, drink my wasted blood / and tell me endless tales of who I am: / the man who feels inside him that change has come”). Put differently, this is a funeral march of metal music tailored for admirers of the genre, with its second half getting creepy and enigmatic, beautifully exploding into classy Blackened Doom.

Amidst obscure background elements and nuances, the acoustic guitar by guest Pete Benjamin (Voices, Akercocke) kicks off another multi-layered feast of Doom Metal by Pantheist titled 1453: an Empire Crumbles, also showcasing the deep Gregorian chant-inspired vocals by the other guest Andy Koski-Semmens (Syven, Pantheist), offering the listener six minutes of what can be called a Stygian and mesmerizing mass. Then the serene keys by Kostas are the main ingredient in the also slow and dense Emergence, with the low-tuned bass lines by Alexsej creating a menacing ambience in paradox with the delicacy of the piano notes. In other words, Pantheist will crush your senses mercilessly throughout the entire song in the perfect depiction of how visceral and vibrant Doom Metal can be. And lastly we have Seeking Infinity, Reaching Eternity, another deep and full-bodied display of Funeral Doom led by Kostas’ anguished roars and church-like keys, giving life to the song’s imposing, poetic lyrics (“I hear the sound of horns, I see a beast appearing from the sea / it has ten horns and seven heads / looks like a lion, like a leopard it crawls / I stretch out my shaking hand / and touch the body of the dancing Shiva / I want to scream, but I can’t / instead I cry, shake and shiver”), with Dan pounding his drums in perfect sync with Frank’s harmonious and fierce riffs and, therefore, keeping the atmosphere vibrant and thunderous until its climatic finale.

Pantheist are a Funeral Doom institution that’s certainly worth a shot, no doubt about that, and the extremely high quality of the music found in Seeking Infinity is a solid statement that this very talented band is here to stay, living up to the legacy of all classic and old school Doom Metal, Funeral Doom and Blackened Doom bands from all over the world. Having said that, I highly recommend you follow the band on Facebook and subscribe to their YouTube channel for more details about them and to enjoy more of their music. And, of course, purchase your copy of Seeking Infinity from their own BandCamp or webstore, from The Vynil Division’s BandCamp or webstore, from iTunes or from Discogs, and may the somber and lugubrious sounds and tones blasted by Pantheist permeate your thoughts whenever you visit the darkest corners of your mind.

Best moments of the album: 500 B.C. to 30 A.D.- The Enlightened Ones and Emergence.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Melancholic Realm Productions

Track listing
1. Eye of the Universe 1:59
2. Control and Fire 11:45
3. 500 B.C. to 30 A.D.- The Enlightened Ones 13:13
4. 1453: an Empire Crumbles 6:04
5. Emergence 12:17
6. Seeking Infinity, Reaching Eternity 14:39

Band members
Kostas Panagiotou – vocals, keyboards
Frank Allain – guitars
Aleksej Obradović – bass
Daniel “Dan” Neagoe – drums

Guest musicians
Pete Benjamin – acoustic guitar on “1453: an Empire Crumbles”
Andy Koski-Semmens – vocals on “1453: an Empire Crumbles”

Album Review – Spiral Skies / Blues For A Dying Planet (2018)

Get ready to be put in a trance and to be taken on a unique musical journey by a psychedelic Swedish band and their “rock from another planet”.

With influences ranging over decades, Swedish Occult Rock band Spiral Skies has created a sound that can most easily be described as “rock from another planet”, a unique blend of folk, doom and 70’s-inspired rock music the likes of Jefferson Airplane, Curved Air and The Devil’s Blood, all embraced by a unique visual performance at their intense and enchanting live shows. After their debut EP A Queendom to Come, released in 2015, it’s time for Spiral Skies to further spread their sorcery with their brand new album beautifully titled Blues For A Dying Planet, an ode to the past that’s at the same time always looking into the future.

Formed in 2014 in the Swedish capital Stockholm, Spiral Skies are the talented Frida on vocals, Jonas and Dan on the guitars, Eric on bass and Daniel on drums, each one with a different musical background and distinct influences, but all sharing the same passion for 70´s genuine rock and metal music. In Blues For A Dying Planet, which features a classy cover illustration by Vadim Karasyov, cover and booklet design by Atmanoid, and cover photo by Björn Pettersson, the band brings forth an amalgamation of styles with a strong Psychedelic Doom Metal and Rock core essence, putting you in a trance and taking you to the golden years of rock, always spearheaded by the mesmerizing vocals by Frida.

An organ and the sound of the wind in the intro Black Hole Waltz ignite the feast of Rock N’ Roll and Heavy Metal named Awakening, with Jonas and Dan dictating the rhythm with their Iron Madein-ish riffs while Frida gives a lesson in passion and energy with her flamboyant vocals. Put differently, this rockin’ hymn has an old school Heavy Metal vibe that, when blended with its core Doom Metal essence, makes things even more captivating. Following such powerful start we have Dark Side of the Cross, a very good song to dance under the stars that leans towards the classic Doom Metal by Black Sabbath with a more whimsical Rock N’ Roll aura, also showcasing a great job done by Daniel with his intricate beats; and The Wizard’s Ball, where Frida keeps delivering sheer awesomeness through her charming and potent vocals, with the rest of the band keeping the music at a very pleasant and gripping pace, flowing smoothly until its climatic ending. Then it’s time to dance with Frida and the boys in Danse Macabre, a classic Hard Rock song with tons of psychedelic elements from Doom Metal added to its beautiful sonority, with Jonas and Dan blasting straightforward, old school guitar riffs that effectively help embellish the ambience.

Labyrinth of the Mind is perhaps the most Black Sabbath of all tracks, with a great balance between the heaviness of the guitar riffs and the gentle voice by Frida, resulting in a hypnotizing musicality perfect for closing your eyes and letting the band take you on a one-of-a-kind musical journey. In Shattered Hopes we’re treated to a hybrid between pure Psychedelic Rock and more contemporary Doom Metal and Hard Rock, uniting past and present through the riffs by the band’s guitar duo and the always fiery vocals by Frida; whereas the poetically-titled tune Left Is Right and Right Is Left Behind has its name translated into classic Rock N’ Roll with tons of psychedelia added to its mesmerizing waves. Furthermore, Eric with his solid bass lines and Daniel with his fierce beats create the perfect background for Frida to shine once again on vocals. And lastly, their feast of classy and gripping sounds is majestically concluded with the lesson in Psychedelic Rock and Metal named The Prisoner, a full-bodied voyage led by the heavy and very melodic guitars by both Jonas and Dan.

The enchanting voice by Frida and her Spiral Skies can be better appreciated through the band’s Facebook page and Spotify, and if you want to buy a copy of Blues For A Dying Planet and consequently have all that’s needed to prance around the fire pit under a moonlit sky, you can find the album on sale at the AOP Records’ BandCamp page or webstore, at the Nuclear Blast webstore, on iTunes or on Amazon. Although the 70’s might be long gone and everything is now just a distant memory, the music by bands like Spiral Skies is what keeps the spirit and passion of that golden decade burning bright inside our souls.

Best moments of the album: Awakening, Danse Macabre and The Prisoner.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 AOP Records

Track listing
1. Black Hole Waltz 1:25
2. Awakening 3:31
3. Dark Side of the Cross 4:04
4. The Wizard’s Ball 5:36
5. Danse Macabre 4:18
6. Labyrinth of the Mind 5:42
7. Shattered Hopes 3:18
8. Left Is Right and Right Is Left Behind 4:38
9. The Prisoner 6:02

Band members
Frida – vocals
Jonas – guitars
Dan – guitars
Eric – bass
Daniel – drums

Album Review – Bombnation / Night Invasion (2014)

A nonstop heavy music party that will fulfill your inner desire for old school Thrash Metal.

Rating4

12 Jacket (3mm Spine) [GDOB-30H3-007}Who doesn’t love the unparalleled heavy music from the 80’s and beginning of the 90’s? Those were definitely good times, when heavy music in general was the most fun thing in the entire world, thanks largely to all new bands born during that period who were able to blend the technique from traditional Heavy Metal with the undisputed attitude from Punk Rock, bringing forth what we know today as Thrash Metal.  Despite the nuisance that the music industry has become since then, and consequently the negative impact it has had on old school Thrash Metal, there are still some awesome bands proudly carrying the flag of true and honest heavy music, such as Canadian Crossover/Hardcore band Bombnation.

Founded in 2007 in “La Belle Province de Québec”, Bombnation do not hide their influences nor their goals with their music. Inspired by classics like Slayer, Anthrax, Nuclear Assault, D.R.I. and many others, and adding to their musicality some elements from D-Beat and Grindcore, those Québécois thrash metallers simply want to have fun and make life more enjoyable, and they indeed do it with their brand new album called Night Invasion. There’s nothing controversial, profound or melancholic in their lyrics: it’s a motherfuckin’ heavy music party, just the way old school Thrash Metal is supposed to be.

Fire Of The Night kicks off the album relying heavily on its harsh vocals, uprising lyrics, insane riffs and drums perfect for slamming into the pit. What really amazes me from the very first song of the album is the overall quality of the production, because although we’re talking about brutal music, it’s also very clean and pleasant to listen to. The following two tracks are the epitome of hardcore: Slayed By Slayer is a short but sick tribute to the most awesome Thrash Metal band of all time, and it’s impossible not to love its lyrics, especially when vocalist Mike Waters screams “Do you want to die!”, probably inspired by Slayer’s classic “Postmortem”; while War Beer Warrior (where do they find those song names?) was born to be a classic, sounding even more ferocious and more Slayer-ish than the previous song.

In the next track, Hops, Bombnation get closer to old school Exodus, especially its riffs, drums, and of course the guitar solo, followed by more sonic violence in Obituary, with its gory lyrics and anarchist vibe. Another brilliant tribute happens in Kreator’s Destruction Of Sodom, this time as you can see to the mighty Teutonic Thrash Metal. It is “extreme aggression” as the band says, with even its vocals being “adapted” to that type of music. Blackout Without Stout is another great choice for having a beer while getting into a sick mosh pit, and the title-track, Night Invasion, sounds more imposing, mainly due to its slow heavy riffs and great backing vocals, giving it an extra touch of wickedness.

I would definitely try the next song’s name, Kentucky Fried Seagulls, screaming its chorus with my mouth full of this “delicacy” from the hardcore cuisine, while Le D-Beat De La 50 doesn’t let the party slow down, reminding me of the Punk Rock played by Black Flag in their early days. Forget It is very similar to the previous track, but with some deeper vocals à la Chuck Billy, followed by one minute of pure devastation  with another great name, Pissed Off To Listen To Pop, as fast as violent as it can be.

The band doesn’t let the ball drop with the direct and raw musicality of Reggie’s Calling, and the pure old school Thrash Metal of Order666, where the band invites us to “Feel the power of Metal!”, followed by the violent Iron Whale and the even faster and more violent (if that’s humanly possible) Black Cable. Are you tired already? Because Bombnation still have to offer us some intense riffs and nonstop drumming in Astro Turf, a great mix of Thrash Metal and Hardcore by the way, and finally the last song of the album, In The Night, another tribute to that raw heavy music from 80’s, with highlights to its nice guitar solo,  strong bass lines, and an amazing high-pitched scream similar to what Tom Araya used to do in the first Slayer albums.

Take a listen at Bombnation’s new album at their official BandCamp page and you’ll see I’m not exaggerating when I say those guys are one of the most loyal bands to old school Thrash Metal in the world. And if you enjoy beer, mosh pits, and especially your life, simply go for it and you will not regret. I just have to find my old jacket full of Heavy Metal patches before I join the “Bombnation”, being proud of loving Thrash Metal so much.

Best moments of the album: Slayed by Slayer, War Beer Warrior, Kentucky Fried Seagulls and Order666.

Worst moments of the album: Obituary and Reggie’s Calling.

Released in 2014 Independent

Track listing
1. Fire Of The Night 2:33
2. Slayed By Slayer 1:36
3. War Beer Warrior 1:37
4. Hops 1:53
5. Obituary 1:53
6. Kreator’s Destruction Of Sodom 1:29
7. Blackout Without Stout 1:46
8. Night Invasion 2:22
9. Kentucky Fried Seagulls 1:50
10 .Le D-Beat De La 50 1:44
11. Forget It 1:42
12. Pissed Off To Listen To Pop 0:59
13. Reggie’s Calling 2:49
14. Order666 1:58
15. Iron Whale 1:15
16. Black Cable 1:42
17. Astro Turf 1:55
18. In The Night 2:26

Band members
Mike Waters – vocals
Whale – guitar
Jack – guitar
Dan – bass
Crocko – drums