Released: 2014, Candlelight Records
Ireland’s Coldwar is one of those bands that I’d wager many metal fans have not heard of, despite the fact that they have been around for over a decade and have three previous full length albums to their credit. Oddly, not one member of the band’s 1999 founders are still around, with the band changing its parts quite often early on. It’s been a relatively stable core since 2003 though, and PANTHEIST signals something of a return for the band, as it has been three years since their last release (2011’s CHRISTUS DEATHSHEAD).
It’s clear from listening to their music that Coldwar are unique. Ostensibly death metal, the band is quite progressive, not in sound, but in terms of their writing and swirling song structures. While listening, it’s easy to pick out snippets of other sonic influences, ranging from hardcore, crust, and even some black metal. Clearly, Coldwar are not content with the status quo, a fact which is borne out by their imagery, song titles, and lyrics. It’s impressive, if a little daunting to delve into. Still, full points to the band for crafting a package that is uniquely their own.
Musically however, it is a mixed bag. To be sure, this is challenging music that you will not “get” right away. No, PANTHEIST is the type of album that demands multiple listens to appreciate. Heck, I freely admit that I don’t think I’ve quite grasped it yet. Building from a death metal base, Coldwar’s attack is certainly pummeling, if not catchy. Part of the problem, to my ears, is the one-dimensional shouty-growl of Trevor Mclave. He definitely gets his anger across but for music this challenging, more feeling and expression would have suited better. His is more suited to the group’s more straightforward assaults, such as “Ghostdance”.
In all, this is a tough record to rate. While I’m fully on board with the band’s approach and attempt to craft something different, I find that I rarely find myself wanting to play it for my own enjoyment beyond review purposes. No matter though, as PANTHEIST is an intriguing work, and one for the extreme metal fans that want to hear a band offer more than just simple-minded blasting. Recommended, but with caution.