A Pale December play bleak atmospheric/melodic black metal, riven with despair and devoid of hope. Mixing old and new influences with ease, Death Panacea is quite the impressive piece of art.
The music’s core style is a modern one rooted in the atmospheric and the melodic, and is augmented by elements of a number of different subgenres and styles. These are all delivered by capable hands in a complementary manner. You could point out a number of these genres and subgenres, such as ambient, progressive, and post-black metal, but ultimately all of A Pale December’s ingredients are mixed together with the sole intention of maximise the portrayal of richly dark melodic atmospheres and forlorn auras. Some of these ingredients are from non-black metal styles too, such as the touches of melodic death metal, post-metal, and even of post-hardcore, that can be detected here and there.
The album’s melancholic mood is well-rendered across the 48-minute running time, and A Pale December develop their themes of hopelessness and grim inevitability well. The music is expressive and textured. The band use layers of sound to build up the songs, while also having plenty of direct-impact parts to keep things moving forward nicely. The band members are obviously all very technically proficient; everything here is very well-performed, especially the feast of solos and leads that the guitars unleash near-constantly.
The vocals are as well-performed as the music. They too straddle the old and new, with a variety of styles delivered from screams and shouts to roars and emotive semi-cleans and ethereal cleans. Like the music, there is a lot going on, but also like the music, it all works wonderfully together.
Death Panacea is a very strong release from a band that know how to mix influences into a compelling and coherent whole. The level of musicianship is high, as is the level of songwriting.
Don’t miss out on this. If you’re a fan of modern black metal with great atmosphere, melody, and feel, then Death Panacea is not one to ignore.