Here’s a split between two bands that are quite similar in many respects. Both Amiensus and Oak Pantheon are from Minnesota and play black metal with a touch of folk, prog, and post-metal. Their back catalogue similarly consists of an EP plus a full-length each, with the albums being released in 2012. I’m personally unfamiliar to either one of them, so this split will have to stand on its own legs.
Let’s get one painfully obvious point out of the way right away. These bands are both heavily influenced by Agalloch, and it really shows. From the acoustic strumming and the pantheistic lyrical themes, to clean vocals interspersed with feral snarls, there is no getting around that Oak Pantheon and Amiensus owe a great deal to the Portland mavericks. That aside, let’s get to the meat of the material.
Amiensus’ side of the split starts off softly, with an acoustic guitar that builds towards a quite melodic piece of progressive black metal. The vocals alternate between growls and Vintersorg-esque singing, complemented by synthesized string-arrangements. There are traces of old-school Katatonia and their ilk interwoven with the folky elements, which attempts to branch out through a broadness of different influences. “Arise” clocks in at ten minutes, at which point it’s beginning to wear out its welcome. All in all, Amiensus provide a decent piece of music, but is sorely lacking in distinctiveness and ultimately feels unfocused.
The two-piece Oak Pantheon represent a less bombastic take on the atmospheric blackness with their song “A Gathering”. Ditching the acoustic guitar and keyboards, a stripped-down approach to the genre serves them well. Focusing on letting each riff breathe, this allows a more solid sound that surpasses their counterpart in most areas. They incorporate elements of post-metal with a seamless ease, while retaining their blackened core.
As a introduction to both bands, Oak Pantheon comes off as the strongest of the pair. While Amiensus’ track is merely a decent Agalloch-clone, Oak Pantheon come closer to having their own unique sound. Fans of Agalloch, Gallowbraid, and Fen could do a lot worse than this split to shorten the wait between albums.