Label: Ars Magna Recordings
Released: February 2017 (November 2016 digitally)
Oh, hi there. Grab a seat. Let me tell you, the beautiful thing about writing reviews is that it opens you up to things you’d normally shy away from. I’ll come right out and say that I wasn’t terribly fond of this album’s cover; the chick on the right reminds me of a Bratz doll, and the style is a little too cartoony-modern for my tastes. I know, I know, you’re going to say I was judging a book (or album) by its cover, and you’re essentially right. But there’s a lesson here kids. In a genre saturated with so many bands, you have to pick which ones you check out and it’s an unfortunate truth that, whether you want them to or not, aesthetics do play a part in your knee-jerk reactions to check out to a band you know nothing about now, later, or never. Look past those things and you’ll find things you enjoy where you may not have expected them.
Okay, moving past mind-opening hippie-time, let’s get to “Pan-Daemon-Aeon.” Ptahil’s fourth album is a refreshingly eclectic one. Its sound is firmly rooted in blackened doom metal with a subtle touch of ‘70s-style psychedelia (the font on the cover hinting at this), but also has a wealth of experimental sounds incorporated to drive home a maddening occult feel.
The first three tracks form the “From the Deep Death” trilogy and flow seamlessly into each other. It brings heavy-as-balls riffs on your head like a ton of bricks right from the start, plodding along with snarling vocals; it’s a great preview for the album without blowing the entire load up front. An instrumental second part bridges over to the epic, nine-minute trilogy closer with ominously upbeat drumming and vocals all over the spectrum; growled, screamed, wailed, all weaving together into an ecstatic invocation. “Priesthood of the Elite Solar Season – I. (Savior of Suffering Flesh)” maintains the rhythmic chaos with a cascading riff sickeningly mimicked by eerie, high-pitched sounds in the background. It churns on, picking up speed as it goes along towards a chaotic ending, with possessed lead guitars doing a thing of their own and “Praise!” being fervently chanted. “Desacralizing in the Name of a Monotheistic and Monetized God – 1. (Genocide and Suppression)” offers up a good variety of speed and doomy, catchy passages. Samples and solos add to the atmosphere, and the drumming in this track in particular is fantastic.
The sprawling, fifteen-minute “Kaos Rising – I. (Technological Hallucinations within the Kaos Ritual)” is a bizarre combination of electronic sounds and dingly-dangly sounds that I can’t exactly place. It all builds into a dramatic mixture of drumming, synth and oration. It’s an unnerving, anxiety-inducing piece that manages to get under your skin, and is a great lead-in to the final track. “Kaos Rising – II. (Rejecting the Future)” is a track with an amazing Middle-Eastern flair to it that Nile would be jealous of. A chant of “Reject the future!” repeats throughout the early part of the song before breaking into an extended instrumental portion of ancient Pharaonic madness. The chant returns more intense than before, with an almost militant drumming to push it along, to bring the album to a stunning close.
The bottom line is that “Pan-Daemon-Aeon” is one of the best things I’ve heard so far this year. Songs persist and roll on top of themselves to ceremonial climaxes and new, interesting things emerge from the chaos every time I listen to it. Immerse yourself in this ritual of madness and let it consume you.
You can find Voidhanger on twitter talking about squirrels and screaming.