[Vinland Winds]

Right when I was getting ready to insult another bandwagon-jumping mediocre NS band, these American bastards had to come along with an absolutely amazing release! Pantheon's previous recordings have never been bad by any means, just very average with only a few really exhilarating moments, but this recent 10" is so surprisingly and stunningly good that I can now safely say I can't wait for Draugr's Daug to come out. Of course I can't enlighten you in any way with how such a great transition actually occurred, but why question it - maybe it just took some time for the ferocity of the Blue-Eyed Devils to kick some anger back into these Aryans!

Ergriffenheit has the cold and ugly sound to it which defines NS black metal when it's actually done the way it should be: like a giant and bloodthirsty rabid dog, clamping on and tearing down everything in its path. Everything is so disgustingly and filthily raw that it eats away at you like the blackness of the early Graveland and Veles albums, yet it still retains enough of that newer "crunching" bite to distinguish it pretty easily as something more modern; however, while these are admirable enough traits on their own, what's really pulling me so strongly into these songs is the exceptional way they are structured. It's the same epically-long, consistently resurfacing riff formula that hypnotizes you every time you listen to Vampires of Black Imperial Blood, and makes you realize you're falling in love with that album all over again - a neverending barrage of hate, an endless wall of pain, and a subliminal absorbing quality to it that always leaves you wondering what the fuck just happened when the track ends. Of course, I still wouldn't call the 11-minute opener "Ergriffenheit" anywhere in the league of "Magical shadows of a tragic past," and obviously it's quite a bit cleaner production-wise, but you should realize what I'm trying to get at with the comparison.

If I could only recommend one "recent" band from America to really watch out for (keep following your Grand Belial's Key and such!), particularly an NS one, Pantheon would be a likely candidate. This is far and away the best thing associated with Vinland Winds, and it makes you wonder why crap like Grom gets any attention at all.

2002 hando