Some of you reading this already know the 30-year history of the Danish band Panzerchrist without being told, because you lived through it. Others may have heard the name but were still children when the band released their last album, 7th Offensive, a decade ago — and yes, a decade of silence has passed since their last release.
The full history is an extensive one, not merely because the band’s origins go back to 1993 and included seven albums before the silence fell, but also because the band’s members have changed significantly over that 30-year life, and the full list of participants is both very long and also star-studded.
It’s tempting to delve deeper into that history to set the stage for the evidence of the band’s resurrection — a new album named Last Of A Kind that will be released tomorrow by Emanzipation Productions — but despite the ground-breaking nature of the band’s earliest albums, most hardcore metalheads know that an enthusiastic reception for a new record must be earned, even by bands who have already made their place in the history books.
So, in the case of Last Of A Kind, have Panzerchrist earned it?
Of course, you can guess where we come down on the answer to that question because we’re hosting the full streaming premiere of the album today (at this site our premieres are a matter of unfettered choice, based on our reactions to the music alone). Because you now have the full album stream, you can of course arrive at your own answer, just in time to decide whether to pick up this album on the day of its release.
Our own answer is a function of the many factors that combined to make Last Of A Kind such a soul-crushing and frighteningly electrifying experience, and those factors are in turn a product of the melding of old and new blood in the band’s current line-up — it includes founder and original member Michael Enevoldsen (bass and keyboards on the new album), in addition to the return of guitarist Frederik O’Carroll (who was in the band between 2002 and 2006) and new members Sonja Rosenlund Ahl (vocals) and Danny Bo Pedersen (guitars), both of them from Arsenic Addict, and Danni Jelsgaard (drums) from Detest and Vansind.
Credit must also be given to the extravagantly experienced Tue Madsen, who recorded and produced the album at Antfarm Studios.
But to return to those factors alluded to above…. Many of them were on display in the album’s first single, “Sabbath of the Rat“, which was presented through an attention-seizing video: hellishly writhing and swarming riffage, obliterating percussive assaults, thundering bass-lines, a weird and warping solo, and Sonja Rosenlund Ahl’s rabid, blood-freezing howls and screams.
The song is a black/death terror — absolutely vicious, unmistakably evil, and frightening in its conjunction of madness, cruelty, and agony. But it also includes a less-maniacal and more mesmerizing melodic interlude whose witchiness makes the track stand out even more:
It’s no wonder that song was chosen as the lead single, but you’ll be glad to know that it’s not an outlier, but instead a very good preview of many more startling thrills and chills to come.
It’s also no wonder that the album opener “Turn the Rack” begins with sounds of women screaming in terror, because evil and terror run through the core of the album from track to track. The dense, blizzard-like nature of the vibratory riffing and Sonja‘s maniacal vocals are the main channels of that horrifying fuel, anchored throughout by skull-cracking drumwork and the immense subterranean undulations and upheavals of the bass. Shrill and supernatural guitar-leads, freakish solos, and apparitional keys add to those terrors, but also provide changing emotional qualities — almost all of them dark, desolate, and desperate.
But still there’s more in play here. As one might expect from its name, “My Name Is Lucifer” creates an experience of hellish grandeur and hideous elegance, as well as eviscerating mayhem and mind-mutilating torment. Gothic organ tones, bell-like peals, and a rich panoply of magnificently slithering and swirling solos add to the long title track’s atmosphere of demonic forces rising from gruesome crypts in horrid glory. And horrific roars and ruthlessly mauling momentum make “The Fires On Gallows Hill” one of the most apocalyptically doomed experiences on the record, even though it doesn’t reach the two-minute mark.
Meanwhile, “The Devils Whore” (augmented by giant booming tom drums) again reaches heights of chilling cruelty, blood-curdling magnificence, and soul-sucking gloom, and “Baptized In Piss” drowns the listener in sensations of degradation and despair, but with a brief but elegant organ interlude that precedes a finale of sweeping, celestial splendor.
Panzerchrist close with “Juniper Creek“, the album’s second-longest track, which as you might expect is a wide-ranging excursion, but one in which ethereal keys and medieval-sounding instrumentation contribute to a thoroughly ancient and otherworldly kind of terror, where wraiths fly the skies and witches and warlocks levitate above cowering villages.
In all those songs, Panzerchrist thread the songs with dire, piercing melodies and interstitial diversions that create fear in differing ways (all of them unearthly). And really, that’s the main takeaway from the album as a whole — it is thoroughly, and relentlessly frightful. See for yourselves now, and find your own answer to the question first posed above (though you might not want to listen just before bedtime or in a room with no light, lest you invite nightmares into your rest).
Emanzipation Productions will release Last Of A Kind on CD, LP (180gr black vinyl, limited to 500), on July 28th, and it comes recommended for fans of God Dethroned, Vader, Belphegor, and of course Panzerchrist.