If you aren’t familiar with this Canadian outfit’s thirteen-year history, The Suns of Perdition I: War, Horrid War is a great place to start. Panzerfaust, the self-styled “black metal fundamentalists” of Mississauga take their impressive, malevolent discography and distill it to a singular, essential piece of listening that combines complimentary vocal duets and non-traditional guitar work with meaningful (anti-war, in this case) and provocative themes. And the result is nothing short of spectacular.
That said, being privileged enough to see this unique band at Thronefest last weekend, this impression has been completely reinforced: an incredible stage presence, not to mention one-of-a-kind stage setup, with lead vocalist Goliath occupying an elevated podium behind the rest of the band, and rehearsed, professional performance makes Panzerfaust the North American black metal act to follow. Factor in their off-stage antics and you’re left with nothing short of black metal magick.
But it’s the music that matters, and it really doesn’t disappoint. Characteristic high-end snarls that ring out like unanswered accusations typify the guitar presence (“The Day After ‘Trinity’” or “The Decapitator’s Prayer” illustrate this beautifully), underscored by empathic bass work that subtly enhances the ensemble without unnecessarily showy flourishes. This is all locked in around a percussive core that binds the whole together in a multifaceted drumming display that handles blastbeasts with as much aplomb as softer, jazzy fills. And it’s during the fills that Panzerfaust really shine; these softer passages, while still absolutely reeking of malevolence are such perfect exercises in atmosphere and tension that I would almost expect them to have been penned by Brahms, not contemporary black metal musicians. As these break into unrestrained violent outbursts, though, the classical allusions fade and are replaced by favourable comparisons with some of black metal’s most exciting: the likes of Funeral Mist, Aosoth, Blut Aus Nord all present similar balancing acts that skirt the fine line between avant-garde and ruthless.
Enjoy Panzerfaust performing “The Day After ‘Trinity’” live at Thronefest.
The thirteen-minute closer on The Suns of Perdition I: War, Horrid War, “The Men of No Man’s Land,” could easily be an EP on its own, there’s just so much happening in one track. Multiple vocal styles, shifting mood, spine-chilling audio samples and a whole slew of guitar styles, all tastefully arranged and combined in one believable, engaging orchestration of death, destruction and, as Robert Burns put it, “man’s inhumanity to man.”
The only negative criticism I have for The Suns of Perdition I: War, Horrid War is this: it ends too soon. At only five tracks and only a hair over 30 minutes playing time, the album does feel a touch on the short side, but the attention to detail and presentation of a product of purest quality does mitigate this minor setback. 2013’s Jehovah-Jireh: The Divine Anti-logos may have been well received as an exciting new direction for Panzerfaust at the time, but The Suns of Perdition I: War, Horrid War completely redefines this band as game-changers in contemporary black metal.
The Suns of Perdition I: War, Horrid War Track Listing:
01. The Day after ‘Trinity’
02. Stalingrad, Massengrab
03. Crimes Against Humanity
04. The Decapitator’s Prayer
05. The Men of No Man’s Land
Run Time: 31:27 Release Date: June 14, 2019 Record Label: Eisenwald