24. Panopticon – Kentucky
Most black metal fans are familiar with the Pacific Northwest scene and how it evokes the natural surroundings and way of life there. Bands like Wolves in the Throne Room or Agalloch really try to capture the essence of Cascadia in their music. Panopticon, the project of Kentucky’s Austin Lunn, wants to do the same thing with the South. This is hands down the most unique black metal album I heard all year. The concept of the album is to express the conflicted nature of the citizens of Kentucky to coal mining. It’s a struggle of economics and environmentalism. And this is certainly a black metal album. But what other black metal albums use sour-sounding pan flutes and shredding banjos? The way that Panopticon uses Bluegrass on this album is almost startling in how refreshing it is. I do think that the band can in the future work to more seamlessly blend the bluegrass influence into each aspect of their songs, but the tracks on this album get away with a bit of separation because of how delightful and unexpected the whole thing is. This feels like it’s coming from its own place in the black metal universe, as opposed to ripping off the Seattle and Portland bands. The South already redefined what American metal can be last decade, with the Savannah sludge sounds of Mastodon, Baroness, etc. Perhaps Panopticon is the band to bring a truly American sensibility to extreme metal subgenres that have had a hard time divorcing themselves from Scandinavia.
Originally Posted by Delano
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