Finally, the weekend is upon us. What better way to kick it off than with the latest installment of "Funeral Doom Friday". For those who are new to this column; each week features a new or classic album from the realm of extreme doom. Much of funeral/death doom's might comes from an oppressive emotional weight and the use of death or black metal motifs (played at a trudging pace, of course.)
Pioneers like Mournful Congregation, Evoken, and Esoteric have mastered this blend of dirge and destruction. For 25 years, they have methodically built compositions that stretch for dozens of minutes all while keeping fans enthralled. Time has elapsed since the days of Thergothon and much like the world around us, the genre has evolved. Today's modern bands contort the very construct of the genre, breeding darkly refreshing new work. Their work thankfully gives this column plenty of material to share.
Pantheist has long been an intriguing entity in the world of extreme doom. Their early stretch of albums from O Solitude to the Pains of Sleep EP showed an evolution from outright funeral doom to a more progressive brand of doom metal. That progressive style carried through their next handful of albums until the band's extended silence starting in 2011. Still, the silence didn't mean a lack of productivity. The band's ringleader, Kostas Panagiotou, stayed busy working on many other projects as well as crafting new material for Pantheist.
At long last, the funerary force returns. Following their seven-year slumber, Pantheist shows a marked shift back to the funeral doom roots from which they grew. Panagiotou and company are releasing Seeking Infinity this September, their fifth full-length record. This week, Funeral Doom Friday has the first taste of new music from the impending album.
The 13-minute "500 B.C. to 30 A.D. – The Enlightened Ones" is the third track on Seeking Infinity. Across its expanse are wonderful and unique arrangements from each member of the band. Opening on a string of piano keys and an ominous hiss, the track soon turns into an organ and guitar riff-heavy piece before fading into ambient passages with chants. This sort of ebb and flow carries throughout the rest of the song. Still, as it elapses, more and more unique and interesting ideas emerge. The band spoke to Funeral Doom Friday about the new track and its many elements in a lengthy statement.
"We chose to highlight this track of our new album for our official video clip, as we felt it was the perfect collaboration between the band’s members. Written by Frank and Kostas, the track also contains dynamic drumming by Dan who showcases the ease in which he can switch from sparse, funereal beats to tight, full-blown blast beats and Aleksej’s unusual bass lines which fill in space deliberately left open by the sparse arrangements. The track consists of many elements that we believe demonstrate the breadth and width of this album: from threatening, heavy piano chords to arpeggiated guitars, solemn organ, ambient intermezzi, vocal chants and choirs and dark, aggressive outbursts."
They continued on to talk about the video for the song explaining, "The lyrics highlighted in this video are a reflection on how thousands of years ago a number of enlightened individuals roamed the earth, trying to steer humanity to a higher level of consciousness. Whether they succeeded, is something we will leave to the listener to decide. Just take a look around the world you live in and judge for yourself. Lastly, we couldn’t leave Francesco Gemelli’s (Katatonia, Master, Abigor) breathtaking vision for the video clip uncommented. He did an absolutely amazing job with the limited budget we had at our disposal, and the track’s dark emotions are captured perfectly by the disturbing visuals, retaining a storytelling element rather than being a random succession of dark images."
This track, in particular, is a microcosm for the remainder of Seeking Infinity. The work Pantheist put into this record over the last seven years certainly doesn't go unnoticed. While this is only a small sample of what's to come—the album itself is an hour long—it shows the full circle Panagiotou has come with this project.
Listen to "500 BC to 30 AD – The Enlightened Ones" now. Preorders for Seeking Infinity are available now through The Vinyl Division and from the band itself. Also, find Pantheist on Facebook. be sure to come back later this year for more coverage of the new album.