Pantheon I, "The Wanderer and His Shadow"
Pantheon-I have set themselves quite the task in living up to their chosen moniker. Full of majesty and vitriol, they play a brand of epic, progressive black metal that's not unlike fellow Norwegians, Emperor. However, where Emperor was influencing (and participating in) a wave of churchburnings more than a decade ago, Pantheon-I is, for the moment, paradoxically following in the footsteps of their idols.
Make no mistake, these guys are far from diletantes. Their compositions are lush and labrynthine. The drumming, capable of some of the most scathing blasting I've heard. And the riffs, courtesy of ex-1349 guitarist Tjalve, veer from sweeping panoramic themes to panoplies of pulverizing persecution. "Where Angels Burn," is the strongest track (buried in the sixth slot, unfortunately), opening with a riff that's pure archenemy to the most pure archangel. The entire song sounds like white hot embers raining down on paradise. It's captivating in its wanton destruction. Yet, the vocals are painfully Ihsahn-esque. They seem to pine after that definitive scream. That tortured timbre. Even the stress of certain syllables and the plunges in pitch seem ripped right from the book of Emperor. Which is no way to join any pantheon.
"The Wanderer And His Shadow" is a very good album. The songs are crafted such that there's no reason to skip ahead. Yet, it's missing something. Innovation maybe? Authenticity? Pantheon-I need a fresh angle if they're to find a new shade of black in the ever-saturated abyss.
Where Angels Burn