I didn’t discover Panopticon until Kentucky, but that’s all it took to turn me into a big fan. I distinctly remember my mouth falling open in wonder more than once as I made my way through it the first time, hearing the movement of the songs between the metal and the bluegrass, recognizing the samples from Harlan County U.S.A., understanding what the album was about. It connected with me on many levels, some of them opening up distant memories of the music my grandparents used to play when I was growing up in central Texas.
I didn’t really need any more reasons to start following Panopticon’s doings, but I got more when I heard the three tracks that Panopticon contributed to a split with Vestiges earlier this year. At least I wrote about that split, even though I fell down on the job with Kentucky; that split is one of the best releases I’ve heard this year.
All of that is by way of background, to explain why I’m writing now about an announcement that appeared on Panopticon’s Facebook page last night. It provides a lot of information about the next Panopticon album, to which I’ll add a few other tidbits of information I’ve picked up. Here’s the announcement:
“As of today tracking for the new album is complete. it took over 2 years to write it all and about 9 months to track it all, but it is done. The album sees Johan Becker reprise his role on the fiddle (this time contributing MUCH more and with more diversity)… he also contributed some moog and sung vocals on a couple parts. Winterherz from Waldgeflüster was so kind to add sung vocals and screams to a song, Blondel De Nesle of Obsequiae fame contributed his voice, Ben Smith of When bitter spring sleeps and S.A.P. fame contributed vocals to 2 tracks, and Dave Condon, formerly of the mighty Altar of Plagues is currently working on his addition.
The album is over 70 minutes long and draws from many styles of metal as well as folk music and even some very dark neo classical influences. Conceptually, it is a very very personal and non political record. Musically is it diverse but is consistently more melancholic and melodic than my previous efforts.
The album will go to Colin Marston’s studio in November and Art work and a release date will be announced in the coming weeks.
An announcement is coming this week regarding the future of Panopticon and the direction this project is taking (before you speculate, I am NOT quitting and I am NOT starting a live band…)
Thanks again for all of your support and patience. I really appreciate it.”
All of this is very interesting and very exciting, especially because I now have to go track down Waldgeflüster, Obsequiae, When bitter spring sleeps, and S.A.P., all of which are new names to me.
While poking around recent statuses on that Panopticon Facebook page I also came across a few more pieces of info from Panopticon that appeared in a couple of comment threads: There are some acoustics on the new album, but no traditionals or cover songs this time. The album was written in different places, some in Kentucky, some in Norway, some in Minnesota. And Panopticon’s Austin Lunn wrote:
“The new album is my most focused record so far.. It’s an emotional album… Full of rage and sorrow , but there are moments of hope. It is definitely pushing towards a new direction… In terms of its extremes and production values…but the song writing itself is more focused and intense.
“… It has a lot of melodic death metal influences and some Dark metal parts as well. The new album is more of a culmination of all the metal I have loved over the past 12 years…there are many many different elements to the record…it is also a very long album. There are still some post rock parts as well as some acoustic passages and songs, but for the most part the album is much more metal focused.”
So that’s what I have in the way of Panopticon news. But in case someone is reading this who hasn’t yet heard the music, I’m including Bandcamp players for Kentucky and the Panopticon songs for the Vestiges split. Panopticon’s previous releases, as well as these, can be streamed and acquired via the Bandcamp link below.