With Panopticon, multi-instrumentalist Austin Lunn infuses black metal with bluegrass influences, utilising instruments uncharacteristic for the genre – such as fiddles and banjos. The results are a unique and exciting Frankenstein’s Monster of extreme metal.
What makes Panopticon such a successful merging of sounds is Lunn’s willingness to dive headfirst into creating an Appalachian atmosphere. There doesn’t need to be constant black metal instrumentation for this to work as a black metal project. Gentle melodies of a duetting banjo and acoustic guitar offer a detour, with audio samples a scene around the listener. It’s relaxing and mesmerising, perhaps not something one expects during a black metal album.
But when Panopticon gets heavy, it gets proper fucking heavy. Razor sharp guitars and blast beats coupled with furious vocals put Panopticon among some of the strongest black metal bands, but again the bluegrass elements and other instrumentation are woven throughout, making this an entirely unique beast altogether – and an incredibly special one at that.