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Pantommind: Shade of Fate

Even though they've just released their international debut album, Pantommind are no newcomers. They have been around for over ten years, but coming from Bulgaria where playing progressive metal isn't the most popular thing, they've only released two albums so far: Farewell (1999) which was basically a demo they put out in their homeland, and now Shade of Fate released on Sensory Records, one of the most supportive prog labels in the world.

After about five or six listens, I was quite pleased by the band's professionalism that has reflected on their brilliant songwriting, impressive musicianship and unconventional production work. I highly suggest listening to this album with a set of good headphones; otherwise it may come across rather average. In this aspect, Shade of Fate eerily takes me back to Divine Regale's Ocean Mind album whose extremely claustrophobic production makes it hard to get into right away. Pantommind's music has that kind of vibe as well. They create dark soundscapes relying on fantastic keyboards that provide the backdrop of their songs. Keyboardist Sunny X gives the band a very European prog vibe we've come to expect from bands like Sun Caged and Vanden Plas; but also, he loves to experiment with dark harmonic structures found on later period Fates Warning albums and the psychedelic side of Psychotic Waltz. It came as a no surprise when I read in the booklet that both Psychotic Waltz and Fates Warning are mentioned as influences of the band along with others including Savatage, Dream Theater and Crimson Glory. Guitarists Pete Christ and Peter Vichew's playing also displays a secret love for Psychotic Waltz guitarist Dan Rock's work on his Darkstar project. Note the instrumental breakdown of the 7-minute epic track "The Final Line" where layers of atmospheric keys embrace a killer lead and acoustic solo respectively. Likewise, "Why" features a fantastic mid-section that is inherently graced by Psychotic Waltz atmospherics from their last disc.

Vocalist Tony Ivan possesses an excellent range with a delivery that encompasses Roy Khan's most emotive moments on the Conception albums. His accent is hardly noticeable; I'd never have guessed he's from Bulgaria to be honest. Ivan has the ability to adapt to every song with a different vocal approach going from the deep, crystal clean singing on the title track to Ray Alder's most melodic style on "Knocking on My Door" which wouldn't seem out of place on Fates Warning's Parallels album, or the unsettlingly beautiful "Closer to You", a song which starts with minimalist keyboard sequencing and dark vocals evocative of the Divine Regale singer. Needless to say, Tony Ivan is an incredibly talented frontman and a much welcome addition to prog metal.

The music overall is very balanced. It's not the heaviest thing you'll ever hear, but there is so much crunch-filled guitar work that contrasts the almost fragile keyboards, you will be soaked in their music immediately. Drummer Drago's playing is a less intricate Mark Zonder with passionate polyrhythms and fierce double bass drum on "Follow Me" - his tone is intentionally dry sounding and matches the dark overall tone of the album. There are two instrumental tracks on the disc: "Spectastral" and "Mindtrip". "Spectastral" begins with excellent keys and guitar/drum attack giving way to a killer bass throb which leaves me looking for more. I wish the album was a tad more bass friendly - I know they could do it since one of the bonus tracks, "Virtual Ghost", lets Dido steal the show. The other instrumental piece is more varied. Thick walls of atmosphere permeate the song without losing track of melody and add dark textures to the songcraft. The production is very well done - it offers depth and clarity, and never takes away from the organic sound of Pantommind. A very successful disc - very highly recommended.

Track Listing

  1. Shade of Fate
  2. Follow Me
  3. Closer to You
  4. Trace to Find (A Day Without Rain)
  5. Spectastral
  6. Final Line
  7. Why
  8. Mindtrip
  9. Knocking on My Door
  10. After Rain
  11. Orpheus Whisper
  12. Forgiving Fears [*]
  13. Virtual Ghost [*]

    * bonus tracks

Added: September 4th 2008
Reviewer: Murat Batmaz
Related Link: Pantommind
Hits: 5784
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Pantommind: Shade of Fate
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2008-09-04 09:26:44
My Score:

Crunchy, sometimes complex riffs, symphonic keyboards, dexterious lead guitar, melodic vocals, and tight rhythms...sounds like the makings of a solid progressive metal album right? Absolutely. That's what you get and more on the 2005 release Shade of Fate from Pantommind, a CD that somehow missed my attention back when it was first released, but one that I made sure to catch up with, now 3 years later. While the band doesn't knock you over the head with non-stop complexity and passages of virtuosity like bands such as Dream Theater, Zero Hour, or Symphony X, they do manage to provide plenty of that, alternating between the prog and the metal, always highly melodic and emotional. Not really a dud among these 13 songs, and enough variety to keep any listener of progressive music happy. They lull you into a dreamy journey on a song like "After Rain", which starts off all atmospheric and sleepy, till the bone crunching riffs kicks in and Tony Ivan's vocals reach for the heavens. Just a wonderful song. Other highlights include "The Final Line", "Why", and the excellent title track, but like I mentioned earlier, no real weak ones to be found here.

These guys have all the makings of a band that has an enormous career ahead of them. Here we are in late 2008, and their follow-up to Shade of Fate is almost upon us. Let's see what they have in store for us.

» Reader Comments:

Pantommind: Shade of Fate
Posted by Yordan Grantcharov on 2005-06-01 13:13:43
My Score:

Outstanding album! I cant believe this is their second album, they sound absolutely professional and experienced! The music is melodic and complex at the same time. Highly recommended to every prog fan!

Pantommind: Shade of Fate
Posted by Dave Moore, California on 2005-05-23 22:32:36
My Score:

Holy Prog rock Batman! This album rocks and is a Prog masterpiece. It has so much subtle nuances within each track. Listen to it often and let it sink in. Highly recommended.

Pantommind: Shade of Fate
Posted by Yanni on 2005-05-19 05:50:24
My Score:

Great music and an excellent artwork!
Must-have album!!!

Pantommind: Shade of Fate
Posted by Poison Seed on 2005-05-19 03:15:10
My Score:

Viva PANTOMMIND! The abum is just kick-ass! Highly recomended too!

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