Panopticon – Social Disservices

My wife works in the assistance department of San Bernardino County and it’s interesting to hear her talk about the services they provide as well as the people that come in for help. Now, I’ve always supported programs that help those in need and I believe it’s in the countries best interest to help those that are in need, however, it’s painfully obvious that these social programs are not managed in a way that would truly help people improve their lives, instead, they simply help people get by and in the long run, they are actually a disservice because these people fail to learn how to support themselves and it ends up becoming a perpetual cycle where generation after generation remain in poverty. I truly believe that a country is only as strong as its weakest members and thus, we need to help those in need, but we also need to provide education and incentives to encourage self reliance.

While I’m not familiar with the Social Services programs that are suppose to help children with physiological and abuse issues, I’m familiar enough with government programs to know that they probably don’t work. Austin Lunn, the mastermind behindKentucky’s premier black metal band, Panopticon obviously is very familiar with these programs and their vast failures, so much so that he dedicated his latest release, “Social Disservices,” to the issue. Being a black metal release, you can’t really understand the lyrics, but it’s still obvious based on the titles, the ambient sounds that bridge the songs, and the sheer emotional power behind them that this is a subject Austin is passionate about.

The album includes a lyrics sheet, as well as an essay regarding the failures of children’s social services, as well as discussing his involvement and provides a little hope.  The album plays out similarly. It’s a long and darkly emotional road, one that takes many difficult twists and turns but by the end, there is a feeling of hope at the end of a long dark tunnel.

I know I might say this about a lot of albums, but “Social Disservices,” is a beautiful record.  The album is harsh, distorted and full of demented, tortured vocals, yet, the varied instrumentation found throughout, particularly the strings, and the occasional angelic back-ground vocals combine to create something that is heart wrenching and full  of rage, but full of beauty as well. The music is heavily rooted in Black Metal, but it full of so many other elements, such as doom, post-rock and folk. There is a lot of instrumentation here, particularly for a one-man band and it’s all recorded perfectly.  The drums have a very lush, organic sound to them, especially in the last few minutes of closing track “Patient.” This album, to me, is a prime example of the limitless potential of Black Metal. Often times the genre gets stuck in the basics, but when a band incorporates all of its influences, Black Metal can be the most powerful of all genres.

This album came out a few months back but unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to hear it until just recently.  Had I listened to it sooner, it would have secured a high spot on my Best of 2011 list; it would have been a strong contender for the top spot. Austinhas a new Panopticon album already done and being mastered called “Kentucky” that I am really excited about.  It’s supposed to be a tribute to his home state and is heavily infused withBluegrass. If it’s anywhere close to “Social Disservices” it’s sure to be on my Best of 2012 list.


~ by silentium1 on January 24, 2012.

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