Two of the most interesting and musically original U.S. extreme metal bands now going, Vestiges and Panopticon, have teamed up for a split release that became available as a digital download two days ago, with vinyl to come. If you know anything about these bands, then chances are your expectations will be high — and you won’t be disappointed.
This Washington, DC, band have dedicated themselves to a long-term musical narrative about man’s degradation of nature and the consequences that has brought, and will bring. The story began in their excellent 2010 album The Descent of Man, with songs named after chapter headings — “I” through “V”. The story continued with chapter VI in a 2011 split release with Ghaust, and then around the beginning of this year they began streaming the next two chapters, “VII” and “VIII”, on their web page and Bandcamp. Those most recent two songs are the Vestiges contributions to this current split with Panopticon.
The two songs flow seamlessly from one to the next, making them essentially one piece of music exceeding 18 minutes in length. It casts a dark, powerful spell. “VII” could be thought of as an extended overture. It’s almost entirely instrumental, beginning with droning ambient sounds and emphatic piano chords and then adding huge, prolonged bass notes and eventually the clash and march of cymbals and snare drum. It builds in volume and intensity until the music explodes at the beginning of “VIII”.