Panopticon/Wheels Within Wheels - It's Later Than You Think
Lundr Records
Black Metal
4 songs (36:39)
Release year: 2009
Lundr Records
Reviewed by Charles
Archive review
Two acquired tastes on display here, on a split album that would be worth a listen for no reason other than it brings us (to my knowledge) the only two Wheels Within Wheels tracks in existence. Of course, if you are one of Panopticon’s ardent admirers, two more songs from Lundr will be motivation enough. This release from last year has a cover that, whilst appearing to many to be pretty crappy, actually has a rather nice, low-budget “necro” (putting the word in inverted commas means I am not a poseur) quality about it to my mind. Both acts are Kentuckian one-man bands, the individuals in question actually work together in Seidr, an obscure funeral doom band who do a nice line in Pantheistic misery.

Panopticon’s contributions are fairly unsurprising. The first tune is a reworking of Speaking from the self-titled album, converted into an all-acoustic piece. The jangling bluegrass elements that were to become such a large part of Collapse are effectively given a ten-minute showcase. It’s a nice diversion; a hippyish fireside singsong, the friendliness of which is amply made up for by the politically-charged second tune, The Ghosts of Haymarket Square. This tribute to anarchist demonstrators is delivered in Panopticon’s instantly recognisable, low-fi style; rattling drumming and minimalist harmonies.

It’s the second half that makes this a distinctive collection. Wheels Within Wheels is a curious proposition, drawing drone and ambient influences into its very minimalist black metal. The sound on Beginning is murky and faded, like Xasthur at times, drowning a repeated, despondent melodic progression in fuzz, but in its dying 30 seconds it bursts into a dissonant flourish of electronic noise. White Light Rains Down On…, at 13 minutes long, is a real curiosity; a pulsing, almost industrial thud is weighed down by oppressive fuzz, making this comparable to a less deafening, and more grimy, companion to esoteric noisemakers like Menace Ruine or L’Acephale.

So, maybe not a compulsory listening experience but a worthy contribution, with one band in particular which should prick the curiosity of experimentally minded black metallers.

Killing Songs :
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