PAN.THY.MONIUM — Khaooohs & Kon-Fus-Ion (review)

PAN.THY.MONIUM — Khaooohs & Kon-Fus-Ion album cover Album · 1996 · Progressive Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
PAN.THY.MONIUM, the side project of Swedish extreme metal veteran Dan Swanö cranked out the debut EP and first two albums out fairly quickly in the early 90s but as Edge Of Sanity became more popular in the blossoming extreme metal underground, Swanö focused most of energy in that direction as well as divvying up his energies into other bands like Godsend, Nightingale, Maceration, Overflash, Subway Mirror and even a neo-prog project called Unicorn. The man was obsessed and Sweden’s answer to Mike Patton’s restless pursuit of the next project. Despite his full plate, he found time in his busy schedule to release the last chapter of the PAN.THY.MONIUM trilogy which ended in 1996 with KHAOOOHS AND KON-FUS-ION.

For this last installment in the PAN.THY.MONIUM multiverse, the band (same lineup on all four releases: Robert Karlsson “Derelict” (vocals), Dag Swanö "Aag" (lead guitars, soprano saxophone, “noises,”) Robert Ivarsson "Mourning" (rhythm guitars), Dan Swanö "Day Disyraah" (basses, keyboards), Benny Larsson "Winter" (drums, cymbals, percussion)) continues their unique avant-garde take on the possibilities of marrying progressive rock with death doom metal and implement both aspects of the earlier albums into their grande finale. While the debut “Dawn Of Dreams” focused more on the progressive touches in a death doom context, the sophomore followup “Khaooohs” experimented more with textures, tones, timbres and sound effects.

KHAOOOHS AND KON-FUS-ION only contains four tracks however the closing “In Rememberence” is nothing more than one minute of silence whereas the penultimate “Behrial” eschews the metal paradigm altogether and creates a swirling synthesized symphony of some sort of darkwave chamber rock that lasts nearly seven minutes which leaves only two tracks of recognizable music that represent the true frenetic and fertile ground of the PAN.THY.MONIUM sound established on the previous recordings which continue the process of taking the listener to an entirely bizarre parallel universe where none of the established rules apply. Although there are only two “real” tracks, they are both quite lengthy and clock in at over 30 minutes.

“The Battle Of Geeheeb” begins with doom metal riffing and bluesy guitar licks before the chugging and death growls regurgitate from the underworld with the eerie atmosphere oozing out and the percussive drive outlining the main frame of the musical drive. The track displays not only the rotisserie of stylistic changes with electronic effects and psychedelic segments but also deliveries plenty of progressively infused angularities with time signature rich freneticism between the chugging riffs and just plain weird moments when everything stops and a lone saxophone squawks up a storm. The whole thing does evoke a battle where the guttural death growls are directing and orchestrating the army of sound to attack some unknown enemy.

“Thee-Pherenth” becomes even more unstable with doom riffs, down-tuned acoustic guitar arpeggios and a more dirge-like snail paced tempo but doesn’t waste much time jumping into jazzy metal territory with a bizarre dance of time signature rich jitteriness that grows in intensity. The KHAOOOS part of the equation is balanced out by melodic guitar licks and subtle keyboard backdrops to keep some sort of anchoring process to the unhinged metallic fury. KON-FUS-ION lurks around every corner as the heavy metal bombast can switch to a segment of weird sound effects or psychedelic meanderings but bounces back with bluesy metal shuffles. While a “constant menu of variations” is the de facto motto of PAN.THY.MONIUM, this track seems to dish out more than the usual portions and all the better for it.

While Swanö saved his best avant-garde beasts for last, the problem with this album is that it only contains two lengthy gems and two tracks that are really unnecessary. For greater effect, the synthesizer rich “Behrial” which is more or less a mood enhancer should have been inserted between the two real stars of the show and then shortened by about half. The last track which is a minute of silence should’ve just been removed or some sort of weird frenetic finale that went out in a bang. Of course, the band could not predict the illogical nature of this once translated into the modern era of ripping CDs onto hard drives but still, it seems like a wasted opportunity. Unfortunately only two of the tracks are of masterpiece status and the other two are filler. A great conclusion to one of extreme metal’s most interesting bands but a bad ending for what started out as one of the band’s best albums. Still worth the price of admission for the first two tracks.
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