In 2003, O Solitude was one of my favorite albums and I actually thought the band broke up after than superb effort. Well, apparently they relocated the UK (from Belgium) and had a lineup shuffle. Thank god, ‘cos now possibly the finest funeral doom band around can follow up their excellent debut with a suitably morose and rending album.

I like to use the term ‘Church Doom” for this band as their heavy use of religious themes (Amartia is a concept album based on the seven sins) and imagery, monkish chants (especially on opener “Apologeia”) and resonant organs results in an austere, overbearing sense of depressive grandeur that’s more than just monotone down-tuned riffs and growls. Pantheist’s music would be befitting the mood in a cavernous Cathedral mourning the recent death of the pope; suitably lamenting but at the same time, littered with the pomp and circumstance of The Vatican. Of course, the usual doom paradigms are present; lengthy songs, (the album is 76 minutes long), droning riff, gruff growls and an overall sense of oppressive sadness, but on the strength of Pantheist’s mastery of the genre and the presence of the elegantly atmospheric organs, Pantheist are able to create more than just doom. The simple yet effective main riff of “Gluttony” is utterly rending, but has a hopeful undercurrent due to the organ’s pulse and its eventual peak is the expected thunderous yet emotive climax.

After the two epic openers, Pantheist then delivers some shorter (6-8 minute) tracks that still efficiently convey the draining emotion of the genre without being too overdrawn. “Envy” gets to the point after a short intro and lumbers with typical doom gusto and vocal mix of chants, haunting whispers and growls. “Lust” has a more orchestral, appropriately sensual mood that imbues a sultry Middle Eastern sound within its typically crushing tones. The Arabic theme is fleshed out even more as the start of “First Prayer” slithers with a Santoor before more Gregorian chants back the eventual dirge-like turn of the song. Though the oft used chants seem more predominant than on O Solitude, they fit the concept of the album, and provide a reverent backdrop to the despondent music.

Although one of the album’s shortest tracks (a mere 6 minutes), “Pride” stands out for me as a stunning example of one of the most utterly withering harmonies I’ve heard in the genre. Ever. Ultimately it’s followed by “Greed” which considering the prior track’s somber eloquence is a bit of letdown, but it does deliver some typical early My Dying Bride doom crunch littered with thoughtful piano work. The aptly titled “Sloth” returns to the lengthy epic style of the albums first two tracks with a more lethargic, chant laced relaxing drone that is surprisingly shattered by the blackened blast of “Wrath”, showing Pantheist are more than a one riff pony.

Adding to an already stellar year for doom, Pantheist have delivered the year’s standout for the genre and possibly proved they (arguably along with Mourning Beloveth and Draconian) are simply the best there is in genre that has sought a new king since My Dying Bride abdicated.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by E. Thomas
April 2nd, 2005


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