The Inevitable End // 2018

This year has been incredible for music and metal in particular. Choosing records to include on a “best of” list is a personal thing and so I chose records that I enjoyed for their creativity, emotion, spirituality or message.

I did some cool things in 2018 in terms of writing and I went to some new places. Switzerland felt more like home each day. My day job in interesting and I’m learning a lot. I took lots of photographs and some will be included on an album release.

I hope to continue writing for Metal Hammer, The Quietus, Scene Point Blank and sporadically, myself in 2019 and I hope to hear a lot more exciting music.

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The Memory Remains. 2015 in review.

2015 is over and 2016 looms, full of promise and optimism but, in all likelihood it’s going to be much the same as the year before it and the year before that and the year before that……etc etc…. Every year I try not to have too many expectations about what the following twelve months will hold and instead try to take one day at a time and hope that through some kind of cosmic circumstance, that things will be OK. That my family will stay well and that they will be happy and that the struggles they face will become less.

2015 was, on the whole, a good year. My day job went well and continues to do so. For the most part my family are doing great and I saw my little brother get married in the summer, which was incredible despite having to sit in a church for that length of time. Writing took a little bit of a back seat and I found myself struggling to get as excited about it as I used to. It turned into a chore and I thought it best to allow myself some time to regain the joy in writing. I still get paid a little for some work and I continued to do that, but this blog and other online outlets suffered as a result.

I found myself not listening to as much music as I could have and usually do. That I wasn’t listening to a record unless I was writing about it (which as you can see from above, I didn’t do too much of) and so my pleasurable listening came from the occasional musical crush – you don’t want to know how many times I’ve listened to Enthrone Darkness Triumphant in the last six weeks.

As well as that, I have a physical ailment (it’s a super gross ganglion on my right wrist) that is preventing typing for extended periods of time and I finally went to see my GP about it. Fingers crossed that during the beginning of this year I get some news on when it can be operated on. The recovery is a month or more, so I’m not sure how things will go from there but it will save a lifetime of pain and medication.

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Panopticon – Autumn Eternal 

It’s tough to find something new to say about a project that you’ve talked about on numerous occasions, and when that critique is always positive, it becomes harder to say something that will mean anything to anyone other than yourself or the band in question. It becomes something that everyone reading has read before, and will read again, yet sometimes the music and the heart is so true, that it doesn’t matter. That you love it so much and feel it so keenly that you need to spill the words on the electronic page in order to feel complete. Often records come along that need to be spoken about, that need to be felt, that must be heard and while this introduction is more a way of justifying reviewing Panopticon yet again, it’s also a way of putting my own thoughts together.

Where previous records have gone from being hugely crust/black metal (Panopticon) influenced to political (Social Disservices) to more folky and historical (Kentucky), Autumn Eternal holds back on the traditional elements and instead wraps subdued moments into layers of harsher, bleak tones. The Panopticon that we’ve come to know on later releases is mostly evident on opener “Tamarack’s Gold Returns” – a sweet nod to the turning of the colour of the leaves of the Tamarack tree – with the use of Johan Becker’s gorgeous strings adding depth and emotion to the instrumental opening.

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Saor – Aura

Saor aren’t an entirely new prospect, having began life in 2012 as Àrsaidh, yet Aura is a significant step up from the debut Roots and an incredible testament to learning, growing and becoming better. On Aura, sole member Andrew Marshall takes everything he has and creates a record of constant movement and power while also staying true to the roots of the band and being essentially, a lovesong to his homeland of Scotland.

This time around, Marshall allows other musicians to mark their mark on his sounds and Aura features performances from Panopticon’s Austin Lunn on drums and violin/strings are provided by the hardest working player in the business, Johan Becker. The traditional elements of the music are still in place yet everything seems so much more solid, rounded and thought out. That’t not to say that Roots wasn’t an exceptional record, but that time is a glorious thing and Aura benefits from it immensely.

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Panopticon – Roads To The North

Panopticon has long been a figure on the outer limits of American black metal, a one man band with his foot on both sides of the opposing styles of contemporary black metal – the visceral nature of the genre being incredibly forthcoming on 2011s Social Disservices while the folkier elements of the scene were more present on 2012s Kentucky – both though, held much in the way of personal emotion and it’s clear that for Austin Lunn, Panopticon is an outlet for many different feelings and as such his music is a way of working through life and the odd nature of being human. Roads To The North sublimely incorporates both aspects of Panopticon but make no mistake, this record is angry, heartfelt and deeply, deeply personal.

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Vestiges+Panopticon – Split LP

It’s no secret that I have a personal love and appreciation for the one man project of A. Lunn – Panopticon – so please allow me to harp on about this band one more time. It’s unlikely it’ll be the last time I talk about Panopticon so you’ll just have to deal with it. After 2011s searing Social Disservices and 2012s more melodic affair, Kentucky, Panopticon is back – this time with a split from another favourite of mine, Vestiges.

Vestiges side of the split nicely follows their debut The Descent of Man and their split with Ghaust in 2011 by naming the tracks contained here in a continuation of the songs found on those releases. “VII” and “VIII” deftly progress the sound that Vestiges created on their debut whilst bringing a new sense of coherence and a world of agony into these new works. Pantopicon meanwhile, evokes the landscapes we heard on Kentucky with two new compositions – “A Letter” and “Eulogy” – as well as a furious cover of Suicide Nation’s “Collapse and Die.”
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Vestiges: Top secret guys. Panopticon: A. Lunn

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