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”

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Album Review – Plutonium / Born Again Misanthrope (2016)

Extremely toxic, flammable, unorthodox and unique. That’s the transuranic radioactive Industrial Extreme Metal engendered by Swedish multi-instrumentalist Mr. J.

Rating5

albumcoverBAMThe “most common” form of plutonium known worldwide is the transuranic radioactive chemical element with symbol Pu and atomic number 94, with very harmful effects on the human body due to its radioactivity and heavy metal poison effects. However, what would happen if those lethal characteristics were converted into heavy music? Well, I guess the result would sound pretty much like the eccentric Industrial Extreme Metal by Swedish one-man band Plutonium, as you’ll be able to experience while taking a listen at his brand new full-length album, entitled Born Again Misanthrope.

Plutonium was formed in 2003 in the city of Karlskoga, Sweden by Mr. J (also known as J. Carlsson) as his creative oasis and getaway, and since them the world has already witnessed the uprise of a demo named Wind Of Change (2004) and the full-length albums One Size Fits All (2007) and Devilmentertainment Non-Stop (2011). Featuring nine songs that not only have an unorthodox approach but also present idiosyncratic names, Born again Misanthrope signs an evolution in the music by Mr. J and his radioactive Plutonium, and if you’re expecting something easy to listen and absorb I must warn you this album is definitely not for you.

You can feel how experimental the album is from the very first notes of the opening track, Born Again Misanthrope, a fusion of Black and Industrial Metal with Blackened Doom where a hellish ambience together with demonic (and somehow robotic) growls and traditional Black Metal double bass will pulverize your mind. And even more electronic and deranged, Cortex Vortex would be an excellent soundtrack to a futuristic horror flick, with Mr. J crafting what we can call “Extreme Disco Metal”. Besides, its guitar riffs keep the song at the right level of heaviness in its almost eight minutes of violent experimentations.

The Inverted Panopticon Experience, a demented march of evil that goes on and on for six minutes, is a modernized version of Atmospheric Black Metal with an extra dosage of metallic noises, which might also be called Industrial Black Metal, while Casque Strength presents a hellish video-game sounding in a more melodic form of Industrial Metal. In addition, its constant electronic riff and the hobgoblin-like vocals by Mr. J are very interesting and end up working really well in this high-octane tune. And just when you think Mr. J will bring forward another blasting tune, he delivers the Blues-ish Progressive Doom Metal chant The Masque Of The Green Demon, a weird and obscure tune completely different from the rest of the album, sounding like a psychedelic voyage inside the mind of this crazy Swedish multi-instrumentalist.

plutoniumThe second part of Born Again Misanthrope is as otherworldly as possible, starting with the semi-acoustic and totally ominous composition Renuntiationem, another wicked surprise in the album where the music feels like a representation of a desolated planet, with Mr. J whispering the lyrics instead of screaming, followed by the vibrant Electric Barbwire Crown Of Thorns, a rawer Black Metal chant with the impact of its blast beats and harsher growls being enhanced by huge amounts of progressiveness. Then we have Alice In Plutoniumland (Two Minute Hate Part III), a two-minute instrumental track full of eerie noises and a somber atmosphere (and that’s basically it), before Confessions Of A Suicidal Cryptologist, which is perhaps the most brutal of all tracks, closes the album in the darkest way you can imagine. I’d like to see more of this blackened side of Mr. J, growling like an old school Black Metal vocalist while delivering blazing guitar riffs that will rip your soul apart.

Maybe an extra dosage of electronic background effects and a better sound recording for the drums would elevate the overall quality of the album to a whole new level, but we must acknowledge that Born Again Misanthrope is at a very decent standard taking into account the fact Mr. J is a 100% independent artist who recorded and produced everything without any external help. In other words, imagine what this guy could do with some proper support? And if you’re interested in knowing more about the transuranic radioactive Industrial Extreme Metal engendered by Mr. J, go check his Facebook page, SoundCloud and ReverbNation, and buy Born Again Misanthrope at his BandCamp page. As aforementioned, this is not an easy listen at all, being extremely toxic, flammable and unusual, but I’m pretty sure Mr. J has never wanted his uncanny Plutonium to be anywhere close to the mainstream. Quite the contrary, he is extremely comfortable with where he stands today with his music.

Best moments of the album: Electric Barbwire Crown Of Thorns and Confessions Of A Suicidal Cryptologist.

Worst moments of the album: Renuntiationem.

Released in 2016 Independent

Track listing
1. Born Again Misanthrope 4:37
2. Cortex Vortex 7:53
3. The Inverted Panopticon Experience 6:08
4. Casque Strength 7:35
5. The Masque Of The Green Demon 5:30
6. Renuntiationem 5:32
7. Electric Barbwire Crown Of Thorns 6:34
8. Alice In Plutoniumland (Two Minute Hate Part III) 2:00
9. Confessions Of A Suicidal Cryptologist 7:13

Band members
Mr. J – vocals, all instruments