Roads To The North
Review by Adam M on August 4, 2014.
Panopticon have an atmospheric element that is beyond words and highly addictive. Switching between folk and jazz elements at random is done so successfully on this work. The music is sometimes raw, which I’m not usually drawn towards in black metal, but the emotional impact of other musical elements always take the foreground over this. Coming in at a long running time, the amount of moods created here never lets the music become boring. Instead, a rollercoaster of wonderful emotions is constantly stimulated to lead to an entertained reaction from the listener. There are a couple of moments of sparse sonic utilization to be found, but they are counterbalanced with an excellent array of harsher moments that are grand and majestic.
The dichotomy is similar to older Opeth, but the music is more akin to folk than that. Really, regardless of originality, the musicianship and song-writing are both top notch and constantly propel the album towards greatness. Never is the listener left with a day-dreaming feeling as there is always some musical element that will grab their attention. Instrumentally, the guitar work and drums is done professionally well by limited musicians. Hearing that this is mainly the work of one musician named Austin Lunn, I am impressed by the density of the music here. The production is quite crisp although the instruments could be slightly clearer. The vocals are appropriate, but it’s the instrumental work that I find myself drawn towards throughout the length of the work. As the songs are more like grand pieces of music tied together, I find it difficult to find a standout track and simply recommend the album as a whole. People that are drawn towards the folk side of black metal will enjoy this most, but the emotionally wrought material found on Roads to the North should appeal to almost anyone.
Rating: 9 out of 10