This one has been a long time coming. Originally released back in May, I am just now getting my hands on a physical copy of this album. There was an initial run of LPs released that were completely gobbled up during pre-sale and I was only able to get my hands on a copy after the record company found a few additional copies from the initial pressing. I guess that’s a sign that your cult level band has an extremely rabid fan base.
After the expansive and ambitious double album, The Scars of Man…, this latest release feels more like a traditional black metal album. The last release showcased a separate album of bluegrass, acoustic and country inspired songs along with one centered on a more black metal focus. This new album only has one full song in the bluegrass vein in the title cut which opens the album and one acoustic interlude about midway through the album. Austin Lunn again handles all instruments and vocals on the album with the exception of the violin and cello parts. It feels like this album is centered on the struggle with mental health and the ongoing deterioration of the natural world. Even though some of the songs are simply brutal (Rope Burn Exit and Moth Eaten Soul, for example), it feels like the message contained herein is more one of hope than of despair. The liner notes from Lunn recount going through personal struggles and that this album is the result of attempting to navigate through some rough waters.
In all, I feel like this is a solid addition to the Panopticon catalog, but not one of the strongest attempts. I miss having more of an interplay between both the black metal and bluegrass/country elements. However, I can understand the decision to pull back a bit and return to basics after the ambitious Scars of Man double album.
3.5 flip flops out of 5