The easiest way to sum up Pantheon MMXIX is to imagine a dystopian, nightmarish world out of the mind of H.P. Lovecraft and then put it in a never-ending, blizzardous snowscape. Such is the atmosphere that Ultar creates.
The harsh winters in the Serbian city of Krasnoyarsk probably inspire the coldness on the sophomore album. Tracks such as “Shub-Niggurath” and “Yog-Sothoth” are the most obvious nods to Lovecraftian themes, but even without knowing the song titles, Ultar does a superb job making some of the most epic post-black metal around. Those soundscapes conjure up enough cosmic horror to make the inspiration evident.
“Au Seuil” slithers beautifully like an enchanting serpent through a dark night and leads directly into “Beyond the Wall of Sleep,” which seems like a violent attack, even though the same buzzing is underneath both songs.
Interestingly, the bulk of the songs on Pantheon MMXIX were previously self-released as the Pantheon EP that the members of Ultar self-released in 2011 when they were called Deafknife. Aside from the wider exposure that Swedish label Temple of Torturous will give it, the new recordings come off a lot more textured with more prominent keyboards that make everything seem more symphonic.
Although Ultar fits perfectly amongst the likes of Bosse-de-Nage, there’s also more old school black metal vibe present especially on album closer “Swarm.” The band has something to offer blackgaze fans as well as black metal purists; they just have to enjoy the cold.