Panopticon gets the honors of beginning our second round of listening, and so Autumn Eternal begins our listening on a somber but excellent note. The ensuing hour of emo black metal envelops you in a chill blanket, bleak as a northern winter (which is probably exactly Minnesotan Austin Lunn's point). The album builds to a satisfying crescendo in A Superior Lament, chased with gorgeous twanging by the decompressive closer The Winds Farewell. This is clearly special and emotive in a way that the genre often aims for, but rarely succeeds in achieving.
Returning champions BTBAM fight back with the band's biggest experiment of their career. Coma Ecliptic is many things, but it would be a stretch to accuse it of evincing a consistent emotional message (strange, considering the introspective nature of this rock opera's publicized subject matter). And yet, the album is undeniably more ambitious, riskier, and more uncomfortable, which is to its credit. Coma Ecliptic does not always succeed, and it's unsurprising that the band are at their best here in the more familiar pieces; fortunately, there are enough Parallax- and Colors-like passages on the album (like King Redeem / Queen Serene) to sustain them. The aspiration and musicianship give BTBAM the edge over Panopticon, but standing up against Panopticon has wounded the band by highlighting Coma Ecliptic's inarguable flaws. We'll see soon enough if those wounds are fatal.
Brace yourself for full-on noise, in tomorrow's match between Mutoid Man and Noisem.