Marching Out Of Babylon

Anmeldt av Eddie Rattlehead
(Nordic Mission, 2021)

Karakter: 4.5/6

Pantokrator_MarchingOutOfBabylon.jpgPantokrator (in old Greek: Lord Almighty) is a Christian Swedish melodic death metal band which today appears to be an one man project of Rickard Gustafsson who joined the band as a drummer back in 1997, just a year after the inception by Karl "Boaz" Johan Varg Walfridsson (vocals) and Mattias Johansson (guitars) and just in time for Unclean Plants/Ancient Path" (1997) and "Even Unto The Ends Of The Earth" (1998) demos followed by "Allhärskare" (2000) and "Songs Of Solomon" (2001) EPs. My journey with Pantokrator began with their debut album "Blod" (2003) on Rivel Records, when I was on an exclusive Christian metal kick, but, frankly, I don't recall liking or disliking the release and the subsequent "Aurum" (2007) on Whirlwind Records and "Incarnate" (2014) on Rottweiler Records went past my radar. But this new release sparked my interest because of the very good "We The People" video and I ate up the promo, which, although it is not without flaws, turned out to be a good decision. Generally, if you're into Swedish melodeath a'la HYPOCRISY or its Finish equivalent MORS PRINCIPIUM EST and you don't mind some old OBITUARYic as well as slightly metalcorish AS I LAY DYING/BECOMING THE ARCHETYPE stylings (both Christian acts) plus a good dose of DIMMU BORGIR and BEHEMOTH (both Satanic acts) you should find this album to your liking.

I like how the melody is firmly encased in genuine darkness and brutality, which is very rare in Christian metal, even its extreme wings. One can tell these guys love HYPOCRISY the self-titled (for what's not to love) as the excellent "Wedlock" and the title track testify but Pantokrator does not strike me as fantastic songwriters until "Hidden Deep" which deserves such description and which goes back to the mastery of DIMMU BORGIR's "Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia" (2001). But the biggest influence is clearly within their own philosophical direction pointing at the excellence of BECOMING THE ARCHETYPE's "The Physics Of Fire" (2007) as in "Phoenix Rising" while some of the more metalcorish riffing of the opener "Day Of Wrath" recalls AS I LAY DYING's "Frail Worlds Collapse" (2003). The aforementioned video single "We The People" is a deviation from what, despite the clear attempt at variation, is a little formulaic approach, interestingly using OBITUARY's "Slowly We Rot" (1989) riffing to set up a pro-Martin Luther King rally for freedom and equality with an EVOCATIONary melodic chorus.

The main problem I have with this album, despite its melodic and brutal appeal, is the production which, to these ears, is so ridiculously trebled that its actually painful to listen to at high volumes, especially in headphones. It reminds me of AS I LAY DYING's "Beneath The Encasing Of Ashes" in this regard and that is most likely where most of my metalcore allusions come from. Perhaps if you play it in your car it may be different? Another flaw is that, perhaps with the exception of "Hidden Deep", there's nothing here that is particularly innovative or groundbreaking, there is a persistent feeling like if this album didn't come out my life would be on the same track, really, and, since music is one of the few things that I deeply passionately care about in this cold, heartless world, if the music fails to profoundly move me that is a big deal and a major disappointment. But I cannot make that alone a basis for how good the material is and Gustafsson is a very good musician and a songwriter thus the final score.


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