Jul 072023

My stack of links to new songs and videos is so high it would fall over and crash if they were dominoes. Here are just two, by good friends, that I’ve enjoyed which came out during the week that’s about to end. Barring unforeseen disasters, I’ll pick many more to share tomorrow and the next day.


Austin Lunn encouraged Panopticon fans to send messages to the county commissioners with permitting authority over Wyoming’s Fire in the Mountains festival by promising to release a new song if 100 or more such messages were sent. That goal was more than met, and so true to his word, Austin released “Cedar Skeletons“, which will appear on Panopticon‘s new album The Rime of Memory. As Austin has explained, the song includes some very talented guest performers:

“It features guest vocals by my friend Victor Sanchez and a choir comprised of many of my collaborators (Andrea from Exulansis, William from Dalla Nebia, and Andy, whom yall know as the bass player from our live band.) Patrick Urban (Dämmerfarben) wrote and performed Cello, Charlie Anderson returned to collaborate on this album on fiddle, and we had a great time recording and arranging together.”

All of those friends make significant contributions to this new song, and they had room in which to do so — the song is almost 16 1/2 minutes long. But the time doesn’t drag, not ever. There’s certainly no drag in the opening minutes, which explode with harrowing power, through blistering drumming, tidal waves of searing sound, and harrowing roars. Somehow the fiddle (I think that’s what it is) can be heard through that breathtaking storm, wailing and screaming above the tumult, joined by the frantic wail and scream of a guitar.

For almost 7 1/2 minutes there’s no relent in the song’s astonishing intensity, which is magnified by terrorizing screams and reaches an even more expansive scale of earth-shaking low-end turbulence and heavens-high sonic conflagration (with recited vocals by Victor Sanchez briefly in the mix), though the elaborate nature of the instrumentation is still discernible.

When the break does come, a sequence of variable harmonized instruments grips the senses over a steadier but still heavy beat, and eventually the music channels both lonely reflection through a twanging guitar and wonder through brilliantly shimmering ethereal tones. That phase, also accompanied by an ardent and more extended lyrical recital by Victor Sanchez, is mesmerizing, but it too elevates in power and becomes panoramic — until the storm breaks once more over a vast range and takes the breath away again, ascending toward a magnificent solo.

The dominant impression is one of awe, but to these ears the music is also a channel of sorrow and yearning, even at its most extravagant heights. And well, to add another adjective, the whole thing is stunning.

Austin says that pre-orders for the new album will be coming toward the end of summer, and that we should expect a “release right around when the snow returns to northern Minnesota… late fall….” “Cedar Skeleton” is available now as a “name your price” digital single at Bandcamp.

P.S. Today (July 7) is the deadline for submitting letters of support for FITM to the Teton County commissioners. For details about how to do that, go here.





You undoubtedly know that my very good friend and long-time NCS collaborator Andy Synn is the frontman for Beyond Grace, which of course predisposed me to give a shout-out here to the band’s new video for their new cover song. I was further predisposed because the song they picked happens to be a personal favorite by a personal favorite artist (Peter Gabriel), whose very name conjures intense feelings of nostalgia for many decades past, beginning with his time in Genesis. Andy jokingly commented to me: “Ruining all your favourites, one track at a time!” Oh, but they didn’t ruin it… far from it.

Really, no one’s voice sounds quite like Peter Gabriel‘s, but guitarist Tim Yearsley‘s singing in the first two minutes of this cover is really excellent, and reminiscent of the master himself (credit to Andy for providing backing harmonies). But there is where resemblances to the original largely end, or at least become radically transformed. As Andy has said, after that, in the hands of Beyond Grace, it becomes “a Prog-Death monster”.

The brittle ringing guitar and the murmuring bass from the opening are vanquished by heaving heaviness and a mood of bleak tension, and Andy‘s monstrous growls and savage howls replace Yearsley‘s seductive singing. The tension in the music boils over in dense waves of searing riffage and battering percussion. Yearsley‘s swirling, soaring, and flashing guitar solo both revives the original’s melody in gripping fashion and propels the song (along with Andy‘s screaming) to new heights of intensity, capped by an instrumental convulsion of violence.

The video is a very cool thing to watch too. The rains come at just the right moment, and who knew Andy could roar under water?

The cover was mixed and mastered by Charles Elliott at Tastemaker Audio and filmed at TankSpace by ERD Visual Media. Beyond Grace say that the song serves as the closing chapter of one stage of their career “and the beginning of a whole new era for Beyond Grace“, and that we won’t have to wait much longer to learn what the future holds for them (and us).

P.S. I hadn’t listened to the original song in a while, but searched for it. I found a video for Peter Gabriel‘s live performance of the song 20 years ago in Milan — here — which in a way was his own cover of the original. And if you don’t know the words, they’re remarkable.

P.P.S. I’m also including a fairly recently released pro-shot drum-playthrough video for “Factions Speak Louder Than Herds“, from the band’s most recent album, Our Kingdom Undone. Hats off to drummer Ed Gorrod.



  1. Damn two fantastic tracks! Thanks for this. And Andy rules

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