"Songs of Sadness"
This split features the music of two high quality bands. Panopticon is a one-man atmospheric black metal with folk elements from Louisville, Kentucky. The image of this band is to a great extent about philosophy and nature. Vestiges is a band that in their early prime had much more crust and hardcore elements to their music, though on this latest release they seem to have moved more away from the hardcore elements and focusing on a form of cascadian black metal alike Wolves in the Throne Room. The skills of both bands are really extensive, whether you prefer the folk-ish and haunting melodies of Panopticon or Vestiges hardcore-infused cascadian-style black metal, the music is surreal and absolutely fantastic on both parts.
As I never heard Vestiges before this split, I did not know what to expect but I was very surprised with their side of this split. The first track, VII is a ambient and built-up track for what is to come, it is actually a good track on its own. I listened to it while I took a walk in the woods near my house and it proved to make a great atmosphere, but enough of that, the second track, VIII is the masterpiece of Vestiges' side. It starts out pretty harsh in a manner that reminds me of Panopticon, though with a discrete touch of hardcore. The breakdown which occurs around four minutes in is also stunning, which gave me a funeral doom kinda feel.
All in all, I really came to like Vestiges despite I haven't really liked what they've done in the past, and I will definitely watch out for more material with them.
All right, so with the warmup introduced by Vestiges, Panopticon sets the earthquake in motion with my favourite track from this split, A Letter. A very emotional song I have to admit, you can almost feel A Lunn's anger flowing out through your speakers. The song is full of haunting and saddening melodies, which is evident from the start. It is especially clear about one minute in when he plays a slow melody with a more soft-hitting traditional blast-beating over it. It is unlike anything I've ever heard, and me go 'That is what I love about Panopticon.'. The song ends with A. Lunn making some intricate drumpatterns and a guitarsolo. And so, The Eulogy begins, it starts out quiet and play melancholic riffs to a mid-paced beat with creative drum fills. This all changes though when you get three minutes into the track, where it goes into blast beating and makes you reminiscent of that Panopticon's usual fast-paced style of black metal. The vocals on this track are really good, they sound very painful, almost torturous. Now the last track, Collapse & Die, I kinda feel is out of place, don't get me wrong it is a very good song and cover of Suicide Nation. Though it is a short song compared to Panopticon's usual song lengths and doesn't feel quite epic as the two songs before it. It is a satisfying way of ending this split.
So, this is definitely one of my favourite splits of this year, if not THE best. The bands compliment each other heavily and fits together nicely. Vestiges transformation into a more black metal-ish entity is a welcoming addition and Panopticon is majestic as always. My final word is that this split is definitely worth paying for even though it is at a 'name your price'-deal.
Be sure to check out both Vestiges and Panopticon on Facebook!