2012 has been more stressful than a motherfucker; probably one of the most all-around stressful years of my life. Buying a house + assorted family and work-related issues that I wouldn’t even dream of getting into here managed to turn the year into a goddamn pressure-cooker. I’m pretty sure the only things that kept me alive were my wife’s unwavering love (and limitless patience) and an avalanche of incredible music. In 2011 I was feeling pretty jaded and dissatisfied with the state of heavy metal, this year I found myself feeling better about things than I have in years. That isn’t to say there weren’t great albums released in 2011, there were, but in 2012 I felt like there was so much greatness that I couldn’t possibly keep up with it all.
Panopticon’s Kentucky is one of the finest black metal albums you’ll hear this year. But it’s more than just a black metal album. It is one man’s ode to his home state, a downright joyous fusion of ripping USBM and Appalachian folk/bluegrass traditions, resulting in something that has to be heard to be believed. I contacted Panopticon mastermind and sole member Austin Lunn via e-mail to learn more about the concepts behind Kentucky and the following interrogation ensued…
Most black metal is pure fantasy. The end of the world, kingdoms of snow and ice, fever dreams involving murder, suicide, Satanisim and extreme sexual behavior are the genre’s tried and true conceptual fodder. But not so for Louisville, Kentucky’s Panopticon, who uses black metal as a means to tackle some frighteningly real social issues on his third album, Social Disservices.