Released: 2009, Candlelight Records
It’s that time of the year again when you start compiling mental ‘Best Of’ lists, and this has been a pretty good year for black metal, 1349, Absu, Blut Aus Nord and Anaal Nathrakh will surely be among the contenders. A late charge by Norway’s Pantheon I may just upset the established order. WORLDS I CREATE is as good melodic black metal as I’ve heard any band produce.
Any band compared to later Dimmu Borgir immediately becomes tainted with the brush of mediocrity and overly bombastic, trite, unfocused music. But Pantheon I take many elements of their fellow Norwegians, beefing it up and improving almost every aspect that you could care to mention. The black metal riff attack? Check – but harsher, rougher, bleaker, darker, thanks to Andre Kvebak a.k.a. Tjalve, formerly of 1349. The drumming? Check – but more jagged, moody, glowering than Dimmu’s oftentimes all-blast output. The symphonic bits? Check – without overblown self-indulgent interludes. The cello courtesy of Live Julianne Kostøl fits right in, making itself an integral part of Pantheon I’s sound; her playing is tasteful and restrained and avoids the fatal trap of being gimmicky. The vocals? Check – from standard black metal rasps to occasional death growls and some truly awesome clean singing on 'Ascending' courtesy of Katatonia singer Jonas Renske.
I’m very tempted to compare WORLDS I CREATE to latter-era Emperor, albeit slightly less progressive than, for example, ANTHEMS TO THE WELKIN AT DUSK, but I won’t purely because I feel the lyrics leave much to be desired – I mean, blasphemous anti-Christianity is, like, so 90s. But the musical similarities to Emperor, Dimmu Borgir and Keep of Kalessin are not to be ignored, anything Ihsahn and co. can come up with, Pantheon I will make a fair stab at matching. A decent slab of modern, melancholy, melodic black metal.