PANTHEÏST (GBR) – Closer to God, 2021 🇬🇧
When we talk about PANTHEÏST we do it about one of the most active bands within the funeral doom genre, with a quite extensive career which started in the remote 2000. During these 22 years they released full-lengths with a lapse of 2-3 years (except the break between Pantheïst and Seeking Infinity), as well as they collaborated in splits, released compilations, and did a lot of live gigs. Having so much activity we cannot understand how they are not enjoying more fame or weight inside the scene. Their last audacity has been recording and releasing an album in pandemic times, a work that paradoxically distances itself from the oppressive and mourning atmosphere more associated with the orthodox funeral doom. Instead of it, Closer to God brings faith and a claim to our primal bond with nature.
In previous albums, we have experienced the introspection of the human being through songs about loss, grief, or even through the path of the Deadly Sins. In Closer to God, we are getting rid of the ego, of ourselves, to open our senses towards the infinity, everything surrounding us, the Cosmos.
With the vast starting track, “Strange Times”, the largest song in the album (almost twenty-four minutes), Kostas soaks us in an anthem quite far from the funeral doom cliche we all expect when it comes to a cut with this length. We are facing a song full of melancholy and peace, commanded by a keyboard – pretty influenced by SKEPTICISM – and a wrapping celestial chorus, all solemnly seasoned with Kostas grunts and clear voices. In “Strange Times” we find the leitmotiv of the whole work: we are living in dark times but the end is near and we should be relieved because of it. Although the lyrics may sound apocalyptic (“Come, burning fire/ throw us in the pyre/ that’s where we belong”), obviously the story is told in an opposite way, as well as the music (sometimes closer to the touching melancholy played by CLOUDS, band where Kostas collaborated with his keyboards) as the final message about the cycle of life and our unavoidable end meeting our creator, which in this case must be referred as the Cosmos itself in spite of a religious God, for what we’ll see in the final track.
We can say that although the album is divided into four songs (one of the instrumentals, “Erroneous Elation”), we could talk about one long song outstretched by the same melody where some additional passages and landscapes lead us through a global story. We’re almost near a prog work inside the funeral doom genre, and it’s not so crazy to think about it when you listen to the guitars, which spread almost the same atmosphere as Dark Side of the Moon.
After «Wilderness«, where special emphasis is placed on nature in its purest state and we have a pause in the form of a piano solo and lyrical voice to catch our breath before the final chapter, comes «Of Stardust We Are Made (And to Dust We Shall Return)«, a declaration of intentions and a precise and epic summary of what we have just heard: Closer to God is about a journey of no return towards the end, the communion with our origins, but with a much more pagan, organic and philosophical aspect than what the title itself suggests, making a clear wink to the pantheism that gives the band its name. An oasis among so much noise, pessimism, and darkness prevailing in our day-to-day life. A proof that the end doesn’t have to be tragic or sad, but beautiful and reassuring.