Panopticon Unearths a Vicious Time Capsule on “The End Is Growing Near” (Review)
Panopticon delighted fans today with the surprise digital release of a new EP, The End Is Growing Near. Consisting of two tracks, the EP differs from recent Panopticon releases for its singular focus on Panopticon's harsher side.
There's a reason for this—The End Is Growing Near isn't a new record, per se, but a lost recording of two Panopticon tracks from ca. 2008–2010 that have been lovingly restored by Spenser Morris (Vukari, mixing for Pyrithe et al.). The record's origin in an earlier phase of Panopticon explains its ferocity; in any case, bluegrass textures are nowhere to be found. It also sounds quite different from Panopticon's more recent releases owing to Morris's production, which gives the raw guitars polish and room to breathe while allowing the drums to echo out as if across a valley.
The breathing room helps on such frenetic songs. Even as it contains strains of the triumphant riffage fans have come to expect from Austin Lunn, "Haunted America II" is an extremely pissed-off track that wraps with an unambiguous condemnation of America's disgraceful history of Indigenous prosecution. The title track that follows is billed as "a recorded rant about the continuing climate crisis and the environmental degradation that continues to happen as a result of our society’s fixation on convenience." These themes have long haunted Lunn's work, but they're addressed head-on in both songs both lyrically and musically.
Fair enough—if there were ever reasons to be enraged, these are about as good as it gets. Given the summer's spate of extreme weather and political headwinds, another return to the light might feel out of sync with society, but The End Is Growing Near is timely, instead capturing the urgency of the current political moment with the youthful energy of the late aughts. Proceeds from the cassette version of the EP will also be donated to Indigenous charities, a nice bonus for those opting for a physical copy.
As a sort of palimpsest of early Panopticon against the apocalyptic backdrop of 2022, The End Is Growing Near is a simultaneous look back and look forward. Its production style gives light and depth to a belligerent early version of Panopticon's sound, showcasing why Lunn's black metal project has been able to keep fans returning even as new acolytes find release in his anarchic fury and heartfelt songwriting.
Cassette sales for The End Is Growing Near will go live Friday, July 22 via Bindrune Recordings.