Album Review: Panopticon & Nechochwen Split

Written by Steve Jenkins

I’ve never been a massive fan of splits before, mainly because if one half is great and the other half isn’t so good, then I find myself not really revisiting it and therefore forgetting about it. But thankfully with these two amazing artists, this is certainly not the case.

In true Panopticon fashion, mastermind Austin Lunn emerges with his sole 19-minute track "Rune's Heart." You basically get a smorgasbord of black metal sub genres here in the one song, starting off with harsh riffs and percussion, followed by some almost bluegrass inspired acoustic sounds in the middle (which breaks up the song nicely) before taking it home with more aggression and rage accompanied by some beautiful sounding melodic guitar work. Everything just comes together perfectly on this track and it very well could have been an instrumental offering, but in this case I’m glad it isn’t. What you get here is the formula that encapsulates Panopticon as we know him, but this is just on a whole other level in terms of just sounding bigger and more epic than ever.

Before hearing this split I wasn’t very familiar with Nechochwen, but after hearing this I am definitely going to be digesting as much of their previous work as possible. It’s got all of the qualities I look for in good black metal, nasty riffs, harsh vocals, pummeling drums, but then they also throw in some perfectly placed melody and gentleness throughout the tracks and it’s just crafted exceptionally well. Nechochwen give you four new songs here, each of them stunning in their own right, with musicianship and meaningful lyrics flowing beautifully.

Austin Lunn of Panopticon really is a black metal music making machine who probably doesn’t get enough sleep considering the amount of music this man produces. After hearing this, you should also definitely check out Nechochwen, because as a band they are very interesting, unique and talented. This is one of the first outstanding black metal releases of 2020 so far and I will be giving this one repeated listens, especially in the winter. Both artists are really good at setting a scene and telling stories through their music, which makes the listen even more attention grabbing.

Not to take anything away from Nechochwen’s tracks whatsoever, those are great, but Panopticon really does shine here and takes center stage so to speak. I’ve been saying for a while now that Panopticon is one of the best artists out there right now, not only in black metal but music in general. Both bands really showcase their experimental skills on this split and it works out very well for them here. If you love nature and earthy, folky, black metal as well as mind-blowing musicianship then this is right up your alley. There is literally nothing holding me back here from giving this release a perfect score and I think it deserves it, so I’m going to do it.

This split release is available now via Bindrune Recordings:

Rating: 10 out of 10 – LISTEN TO THIS NOW!

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