Dear readers of my blog,
it's a pleasure for me to present you my exclusive review of "Searching for Eternity", the third studio album of Bulgarian progressive rock and metal band Pantommind. This is already a serious candidate for the best album of the year. Enjoy and spread the word!
Pantommind is one of the very best progressive metal bands of all times and it’s a shame that the quintet never really got its international breakthrough. One reason might be that the band only released three regular studio records in a career that started twenty-two years ago under the Lavender Haze banner. Things might though change since the band re-released its two previous records Shade of Fate from 2005 and Lunasense from 2009 in an inexpensive digipack edition five years ago. These days, the band and its management put a lot of effort into the promotion of their third output Searching for Eternity. I’ve heard that the band was put on hold two years ago when drummer Dragomir Minov started to focus on surrealist painting and I must admit that his paintings are absolutely stunning. The band had already worked out most songs for a third release at that point and after a lengthy but highly efficient maturation of two years, the quintet finally recorded, mixed and mastered a new record. This really shows how much these artists care about their music. You can immediately hear that the five men are not playing for fame or money but because they are truly inspired and passionate about their creations. This band might have only released three records in twenty-two years but each output is a high-quality milestone of its genre. Searching for Eternity was worth the extended waiting period and is on the same excellent level as its predecessors. The overall sound of the album is a little bit more comparable to the laid back sound of Shade of Fate which recalled progressive rock acts such as Pendragon and Yes than to the more versatile and vivid Lunasense which I feel is more inspired by progressive metal bands such as Fates Warning or Symphony X. Just to give you an idea what to expect from this third record, I might name the first three studio records and the first EP of Dream Theater as comparison or the Chinese progressive rock band Mirage if you need a more recent example but Pantommind especially sound like themselves.
Something I have always adored about this band is their sound which is filled with mysterious atmospheres, profound soul and appeasing warmth instead of focusing on lengthy tunes where each musician tries to show off his talent. The band really functions as a collective even though each musician itself is absolutely outstanding from a technical point of view. Especially the calmer songs are unbeatable. The uplifting “Moon Horizon” has a soothing sound crowned by a simple yet magical chorus you won’t get out of your head. There is no doubt for me that “Lost Lullaby” is one of the very best progressive metal ballads ever written. The relaxing keyboard sounds, the harmonious and soft acoustic guitar sounds, the temperate, slow and decently employed electric guitar passages and last but not least the charming lead vocals and uplifting back vocals fusion in a simple yet most enchanting way. “Down to the End” has a more longing, melancholic and mystique tone as it starts with a wonderful combination of acoustic and electric guitars before crystal clear vocals take you on a hypnotizing and numbing journey. The song then takes up some speed with memorable vocal lines, powerful riffs and versatile drumming. The perfectly integrated middle section features keyboard-driven symphonic fills and passionate guitar solos. As it’s the case for the very best progressive metal ballads, the circle is closed when the last minute goes slowly back to the mysterious acoustic guitar patterns introduced in the overture. My favourite song on this release is though the incredible title song “Searching for Eternity’’. It’s a slow to mid paced epic close to nine minutes with warm acoustic guitar sounds, longing and slightly distorted guitar sounds, cryptically rumbling bass guitar passages, laid back drum passages, smartly employed and diversified percussion parts and once again absolutely uplifting and hypnotizing lead and backing vocals that invite the listener to dream himself far away. Even among the elevated number of fascinating progressive metal pearls from this band, the title track really stands out as one of their best three songs ever and is an example for a perfectly written genre song.
Pantommind also has some dynamical mid-tempo tracks in between the appeasing tunes and probably delivers its most balanced record so far. I might point out the two collaborations on this album. Bonus track “Lost (Beautiful Life)” features former Pantommind guitarist and keyboarder Jiip Randam. While the main riff sounds a little bit more clipped, a tad heavier and slightly dystopian, the dreamy vocals and sensitive guitar solos add the warm signature sound of the quintet to the tune. The drum and percussion patterns on this track are particularly great and in combination with the enchanting guitar sounds, the warmly technoid keyboards in the overture and some nature sounds in the closure, this track even recalls the great Mike Oldfield. The vivid “Walk On” features Swedish vocalist Michael Anderson of progressive power metal band Cloudscape and heavy metal outfit Fullfore. His darker, lower and slightly raspy vocals harmonize amazingly with Tony Ivan’s cleaner, more gracious and higher style in the epic chorus that could also come from an Activator or Ayreon record. Tony Ivan proves that he can employ more aggressive and strained vocals on his own in the fittingly tight opener “Not For Me” which is probably the heaviest track on this release that reminds me a little bit of the Allen – Lande project.
In the end, this perfectly balanced effort doesn’t include any fillers. Even the two instrumental tracks work well as interludes on this sixty-three minute long progressive metal pearl with the faster and almost purely heavy and power metal inspired “Hypnophobia” and its melancholic and almost neofolk driven slow-motion counterpart “Heart”. As all great progressive metal records, this release has both songs that leave an immediate deep impression such as “Not For Me” and “Walk On” and tracks that open up in all their beauty after several spins such as “Searching For Eternity” and “Lost”. It’s the kind of inspiring record to escape from reality for an hour. Listening to this album almost feels like a short holiday for your mind. Despite its progressive and sophisticated style, this release always sounds effortless and fluffy in a positive way. As you might have realized by now, this record is a must-have for any progressive rock and metal fan and already a serious candidate for the album of the year.
I can only solicit the five outstanding musicians from Gabrovo in Bulgaria to continue making this kind of music. Even if it took them another decade to come around with one more release, I’m confident that all of the highly positive reviewers and true fans of hand-crafted music are willing to wait for them. Since the band wisely reworked three outstanding songs from one of their three demos recorded between 1996 and 2004 on this output, I would like to point out that many more amazing gems are hidden on these demos such as the progressive epic ‘’Let Bygones Be Bygones’’ that would definitely deserve a re-recording. If we want these musicians to carry on, it’s essential to spread the band’s name, to encourage metal fans to buy their music and to write more reviews about their three masterpieces. Believe me, if you care for progressive rock or metal music, you just can’t get around Pantommind.
Final verdict: 9.5 out of 10
Official homepage: http://www.pantommind.com
Sehr verehrte Leser!
Das Abenteuer geht weiter! Montreal hat das Hinspiel des Halbfinales der CONCACAF Champions League gegen LD Alajuelense aus Costa Rica überraschend mit 2:0 gewonnen. Vor 33675 Fans erzielten Ignacio Piatti und Victor Cabrera die Tore des Tages nach einem Blitzstart in der 9. und 14. Minute. Hoffentlich behält Montreal auch beim Rückspiel in ein paar Wochen die Nerven und schreibt wieder Geschichte!
Dear readers of my blog,
here comes a detailed review of Klaymore's latest release of own material, the great 2014 EP "Justifiably Pissed". The heavy metal quartet from Penssylvania is one of the most promising young heavy metal bands and worth your attention, money and time. Enjoy!
The young heavy metal quartet Klaymore from Penssylvania claims to be justifiably pissed. Apart of the off-puttingly boring cover artwork, there is no reason for them to be unnecessarily frustrated because their new EP is convincingly great. The band still performs passionately energizing heavy metal that mixes traditional trademarks with a contemporarily juvenile edge. Damn, I need to stop with this writing style. Okay, let's get to the point. The quartet has slightly increased its thrash metal influences and abandoned the few power metal inspired synth sounds of the predecessor on this release. The song writing has become even more concise and professional. The six new songs clock in at less than twenty minutes but they don't include any useless lengths.
The opener "Burn" happens to be my favourite song on this output. The riffs in the verses as well as the fast guitar solo in the bridge are sharp and slightly thrash metal inspired. The bass guitar is audible in the right moments and the drumming is quite tight even though its sound is still a little bit muddy. The chorus is quite catchy but it doesn't mean it's simple. This has somehow become a trademark of the band as their choruses are quite addicting and only need a few spins to get stuck on your mind. The vocals are quite versatile and have sometimes a melodic and strained tone and at other times they successfully try out a few almost screamed and more high-pitched passages. Overall, the vocals sound less nasal and more versatile than before. They recall a juvenile mixture of Rob Halford and James Hetfield in their beginnings. There are also enough creative song writing ideas to make this track one of the very best in the band's career.
This release has a clear guiding line which consists of short up-tempo heavy metal tracks with catchy choruses about complicated relationships garnished with a more fantasy themed tune as album closer. The shortest song on here is "Out of Sight" with a length of only two and a half minutes. Still, the track includes angry verses with tight riffs, a catchy chorus with strong gang shouts and a bridge with a melodic guitar solo. Nothing feels rushed and everything sounds to the point. These guys exactly know what they do and where they want to go with their sound which is quite rare at their young age. This song should be introduced at music schools to show how to write a concise and efficient rock song without any avantgarde-progressive-symphonic gimmicks. I actually like these kinds of gimmicks but they don't fit to this kind of music and Klaymore seem to have understood this.
What I would have liked to hear on this short effort though are one or two songs that sound a little bit different. I obviously don't mean a symphonic death metal song sung in Russian with monk choirs and two classically trained orchestras that hits the ten-minute mark but maybe there could have been an even faster power or thrash metal infused track or a slightly slower and more atmospheric track like "Haunted" or even "Home" on the previous output. The closing "Demons" comes closest to this and opens with a more atmospheric guitar tone and a great dominant bass guitar but quickly turns into another mid-tempo heavy metal song in the key of the previous five tracks. Don't get me wrong, all songs on here are really great but one or two more distinctive tunes would have made an amazing record even more excellent.
I have recently been introduced to several horribly overrated heavy metal revival bands (namely Battle Beast and Beyond The Black) that simply copy their idols by biased festivals, labels and magazines and let me tell you that it's a true relief to listen to these guys here because they aren't just following a trend but they really breathe, sweat and transmit the soul of heavy metal. This quartet from Penssylvania might not become famous because they don't have a cute female lead singer, their music videos aren't made by Patric Ullaeus who is the James Cameron among the music video directors (which isn't exactly a compliment in my book) and they aren't signed to Nuclear Blast to release their records in five different versions including digipacks with instrumental versions, mediabooks with cheap digital camera photos from some dirty backstages in a 64-page booklet and limited pink vinyls with yellow dots that are only available in Japan. This is handmade music with a concept, heart and soul and those who already like the band will faithfully continue following their career instead of jumping on the bandwagon and find another band. Now, I guess I'm justifiably pissed. Anyway, go and check these sympathetic guys out right away.
Final verdict: 8.5 out of 10 claymores
PS: By the way, porn star ex-girlfriends suck...
Best rock albums:
1. King Crimson – In the Court of the Crimson King (1969)
2. Mike Oldfield – Heaven’s Open (1991)
3. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Blood Sugar Sex Magik (1991)
4. Genesis – The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (1974)
5. Red Hot Chili Peppers – One Hot Minute (1995)
6. Puddle of Mudd – Life on Display (2003)
7. Yes – Close to the Edge (1972)
8. Alice Cooper – Trash (1989)
9. The Hooters – Nervous Night (1985)
10. Muse – The 2nd Law (2012)
Best extreme metal albums (black/death):
1. Amorphis – Tales from the Thousand Lakes (1994)
2. Amorphis – Circle (2013)
3. Thormesis – Von Leben und Tod (2012)
4. Dimmu Borgir – Death Cult Armageddon (2003)
5. 天幕落 Terminal Lost – 卷贰 凤凰山/ Chapter II: Phoenix Mountains (2012)
6. In Flames – Sounds of a Playground Fading (2011)
7. ดอนผีบิน / Donpheebin – โลกมืด / Dark World (1993)
8. Putamen Insula – Souriez (2013)
9. Voivod – Phobos (1997)
10. Martyr – Feeding the Abscess (2006)
Best folk metal albums:
1. In Extremo – Mein rasend Herz (2005)
2. Orphaned Land – All is One (2013)
3. Dalriada – Napisten Hava (2012)
4. 颠覆M/ Ego Fall - 蒙古精神 / Spirit of Mongolia (2008)
5. 深山 / Deep Mountains – 忘忧湖 / Lake of Solace (2014)
6. Elvenking – Wyrd (2004)
7. In Extremo – Sünder ohne Zügel (2001)
8. Elvenking – Era (2012)
9. Eluveitie – Slania (2008)
10. Myrath – Hope (2007)
Best gothic / symphonic metal albums:
1. The Vision Bleak – Carpathia: A Dramatic Poem (2005)
2. The Old Dead Tree – The Perpetual Motion (2005)
3. Therion – Theli (1996)
4. Moonspell – Wolfheart (1995)
5. Novembers Doom – Of Sculptured Ivy and Stone Flowers (1999)
6. Xandria – Sacrificium (2014)
7. 六翼天使 / Seraphim – 平等精靈 / The Equal Spirit (2002)
8. Amorphis – Silent Waters (2007)
9. The Vision Bleak – The Deathship Has a New Captain (2004)
10. Septicflesh – A Fallen Temple (1998)
Best groove / thrash metal albums:
1. Anthrax – Among the Living (1987)
2. Kreator – Phantom Antichrist (2012)
3. Judas Priest – Jugulator (1997)
4. Metallica - ...and Justice for All (1988)
5. Anthrax – Spreading the Disease (1985)
6. Metallica – Ride the Lightning (1984)
7. Anthrax – Worship Music (2011)
8. セックス・マシンガンズ / Sex Machineguns –セックスのマシンガン / Sex Machinegun (1998)
9. Metallica – St. Anger (2003)
10. ガーゴイル / Gargoyle -禊 / Misogi (1989)
Best heavy / doom metal albums:
1. Iron Maiden – The X-Factor (1995)
2. Savatage – Gutter Ballet (1989)
3. 唐朝 / Tang Dynasty – 梦回唐朝 / A Dream Return to Tang Dynasty (1992)
4. Iron Maiden – Somewhere in Time (1986)
5. 人間椅子/ Ningen-Isu – 萬燈籠 / Mandoro (2013)
6. Blaze Bayley – The King of Metal (2012)
7. Ария / Aria – Мания величия / Megalomania (1985)
8. ラウドネス/ Loudness – 撃剣霊化 / Disillusion (1984)
9. Black Sabbath – Paranoid (1970)
10. Agalloch – Faustian Echoes (2012)
Best power metal albums:
1. Stratovarius – Dreamspace (1994)
2. Amorphis – The Beginning of Time (2011)
3. Rebellion – Sagas of Iceland: The History of the Vikings, Part One (2005)
4. Stratovarius – Nemesis (2013)
5. Avantasia – The Metal Opera (2001)
6. Edguy – Hellfire Club (2004)
7. Amorphis – Eclipse (2006)
8. Rhapsody of Fire – Triumph or Agony (2006)
9. Helloween – Keeper of the Seven Keys: The Legacy (2005)
10. Activator - Хранитель жизни / Defender of Life (2013)
Best progressive metal albums:
1. Amorphis – Am Universum (2001)
2. Heaven’s Cry – Primal Power Addiction (2002)
3. 末裔 / The Last Successor –末裔 / The Last Successor (2010)
4. Rush – Clockwork Angels (2012)
5. Voivod – Angel Rat (1991)
6. Pantommind – Shade of Fate (2005)
7. Akphaezya – Anthology IV: The Tragedy of Nerak (2012)
8. United Mind Club – World Blood History (2012)
9. Amorphis – Tuonela (1999)
10. Le Grand Guignol – The Great Maddening (2007)
Dear readers of my blog,
Here comes a detailed review of the third and maybe final studio record of one of the most unique experimental depressive black metal band I've ever heard: Putamen Insula. Enjoy and support the trio on Bandcamp, follow them on Facebook or catch them up during one of their rare live shows in Montreal on May 15th 2015 (@ Poisson Noir) or between July 30th and August 2nd (Rrröööaaarrr Festival @ Casa del Popolo, Katacombes, La Vitrol & Sala Rossa).
"Condoléances" is the third studio record by experimental black metal band Putamen Insula from Montreal that recently announced that this release marks the end of an era or even of the formation in general. On these final six tracks, the band moves further away from its crust punk influences and even from depressive black metal as it is traditionally known. These three eccentric weirdos underline their unique reputation in the scene by breaking completely free as they create something which is incredibly tough to categorize. They may even invent something completely new in the extreme metal genre.
The charismatic desperate, throaty growls and shrieks are the only remnants of the band's first releases but the album also features occasional occult clean vocal passages. The guitar sound is surprisingly clean and harmonious but not in a catchy or joyous way but in a hypnotizing and longing tone. Occasional doom metal or even distorted drone influences can still be found but all tracks are dominated by mid-tempo passages that could rather be described as depressive rock music. Some melodies even remind me of bands like Katatonia to give you an idea. The guitar tones and vocals are incredibly haunting while the rhythm section is less present but varies still between downing, elegiac and stolid passages and a few rare up-tempo parts that sound monotonous, plodding and slumberous. This is not due to a lack of technical capacities but adds in fact much to the intended depressive atmosphere.
I must point out the opening tune and my favourite track on this release called "Vers les ténèbres" which is a song with a lot of soul. The elegiac and melancholic guitar melody is so intense that it sends shivers down my spine and carries the song alone. The simplistic yet efficient melody simply won't let you go. Some depressive and dull up-tempo breaks add some more depth between the different melodic verses. The vocals are absolutely incredible as they really sound as if they came from a tormented mind which is crying out its malaise in unchained despair. The entire tune is a haunting striptease of a deranged soul and probably one of the very best attempts at creating a soundtrack for emotional negativity.
All elements perfectly complement each other and harmonize better than ever before. Lyrics and vocals, electric guitar, bass guitar as well as drums and percussion create a coherent, emotional and haunting negative atmosphere. This album might have less outstanding tracks than the two predecessors but it works even better as a whole. This is the kind of record to listen to in one shot as the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. "Condoléances" is probably Putamen Insula's least accessible and diversified release. It definitely requests more attention than the previous outputs. After all, it's though the band's most intellectual, profound and structured record. It sounds different from everything the band has done before but it still includes the bleak feeling of pure despair that characterizes the band's entire discography. In the end, a final rating wouldn't be anything more than a blurry idea for such a special album and that's why I didn't chose any. Personally, I might prefer the diversity of the previous release which was close to perfection in its own style but I think I do understand this record here as something different that goes beyond the limits of the previous outputs and the genre as a whole. You simply should try it out on your own and open up your mind if you dare.
It would be an irreparable loss for the great black metal scene of the province if the band really decides to call it quits this year but in terms of quality, this courageously genre-breaking and at the same time progressively genre-defining record would be a conciliatory farewell and an eternal milestone of a unique kind of music created by these isolated, misunderstood and overlooked artists. Artistically, this is probably already the most relevant extreme metal release of the year, so make sure to get your hands on this rare masterpiece and show this underground trio some well-deserved appreciation.
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