[Etching by the great Kathe Kollwitz]
“COME RENDER THE SALAD UNTO CAESAR!” That is a quote from a great, noble man.
Panzerfaust’s fifth full-length The Suns of Perdition – Chapter II: Render Unto Eden, a follow up to their 2019 LP The Suns of Perdition – Chapter I: War, Horrid War, is, to say the least, an immersive experience. Slide some headphones around your swollen skull/brain and the album wraps you up tightly in a terrifying version of a black metal swaddle. The album employs carefully placed samples as well as clean vocals to underscore their seriousness, making the entire album a very jagged pill to be swallowed whole. Guaranteed not to upset your tummy, ya wimp!
Yet, for all it’s velvet drapery, tracks such as “The Faustian Pact” level some serious riffage and breakdown dramatics at the listener, thus proving that Panzerfaust is masterful at dynamic range. They frequently lull the listener into a false sense of terror before allowing them to unleash their fear via the ole mosh and bang. There are also long passages of double bass and discordant guitars on tracks like “Areopagitic” that provide the safety of a rotted cabin door in peak bear season. Softly rolling and doubling up on jangly guitars, the tune rolls itself into your soul, burrowing deep into the areas of discomfort and leaving you feeling as if you’re sitting on a chair that just lost one of it’s four legs.
The album seems to end on a soft note, with “Pascal’s Wager” again lulling the listener into falsity using tribal, rolling tom drums that would make Isis proud. A sample cuts through, stammering its choppy message as the drums roll like cannon fire at the Battle of Second Manassas, resulting in emotional destruction similar to Fitz John Porter’s court martial following that very same battle. The track builds and builds, exploding into a fixed bayonets-like charge. Again discordant guitars and chaotic drumming (e.g. Mgla) render the outro a fascinating experience in abject horror.
To nitpick: production on the album is a bit thin. My contention is that Panzerfaust deserves a fuller, more-rounded production that doesn’t rely on pure volume to slam their dark, chocolaty music into your earholes. That said, it’s hardly a deal breaker. More like something someone (me) who loves Panzerfaust might scream at them in a mother-like defense of the mistreatment of her precious child (Panzerfaust). Being excellent upon excellent, Panzerfaust deserves only the very best.
Black metal fans have long known about the prowess of Canada’s Panzerfaust. Hopefully The Suns of Perdition – Chapter II: Render Unto Eden is the album that finally puts them on the global map alongside the modern greats. This album is certain to figure in year end lists and unending nightmares. But in that terror is plenty of unchecked beauty by way of acoustic guitars, melodic guitar lines and an overall artistic picture that is painted through brilliant, restrained composition and expert execution.