Veteran Swedish death metal band, Pantokrator, released their fourth studio album, Marching Out of Babylon. This album is their first in six years, and that length of time was clearly well-spent.
Their name is a Greek word that (usually) translates as “Almighty” or “All-powerful.” With the power of a longevity that spans 25 years, Pantokrator wastes no time launching into this album. “Day of Wrath” immediately blasts open the album with pummeling double-bass and near thrash riffs. This track really sets the stage for what is to come from the album as a whole: catchy chord progressions that make up the choruses, an urgency to the drumming, complexity in the guitarwork, and consistency in the vocal delivery.
As the album title might suggest, the thematic elements in this song have a common thread: exchanging the riches and extravagances of this world for the wholeness that comes from God. It’s an interesting theme to see stemming from a death metal band, but it never comes over as cheesy or gimmicky. While the topics range from marriage, evil, and nationalism, the thing that they all find their center in is this idea of returning the focus to God, or, marching out of Babylon.
One track that stands out as a bit of a line walker in terms of this theme is the song “Wedlock.” It is a song about taking joy in your spouse– and the music video has imagery that certainly makes some folks uncomfortable. A quick comparison to the biblical book Song Of Solomon can be made. Truly, this song would have been a fitting addition to their 2001 EP Songs of Solomon. Still, it fits with this album in that it holds to the wholeness found in a relationship that has God as its priority.
The technical complexity of this album is so impressive– the frenetic rhythms, riffs for days, and the way the tracks are arranged and structured displays the time this band has been working together. From a production standpoint, everything is crisp and clean. Nothing ever sounds muddied together or like the mix just doesn’t work. It has a fantastic blend where every instrument stands out well. While every song showcases this well, “Phoenix Rising” is an obvious track to point out: its opening is visceral, the creativity in the structure is insane, and the shifting tones throughout the track are very well done.
If there were two songs to really explore, they would have to be “Hidden Deep” and “We The People.” The former is almost a deep study of who God is and what it means to be a Christian, conveniently put to some wild blast-beats, roaring riffs, and a somewhat haunting atmosphere. “We the People” seems like it would be very pro-America, at least in ideals (which seems strange for a Swedish band), but Pantokrator has actually taken this mantra and high-jacked it to point back to God and how his followers need to be more consistent in their walk. It’s a fantastic track that is probably the most accessible on the album.
For a band that has been around for more than 20 years, Pantokrator shows no signs of aging or slowing down with Marching Out of Babylon. The whole idea of having the topic of each song return to a focus on God is a total veteran move and is indicative of their comfort with covering many different conversations– some of which are very uncomfortable. Pantokrator manages to dive into those things with definitive skill. Here’s hoping their next offering won’t be six years down the road, but even if it should be that far out, fans can trust that the wait will be worth it as the quality of their work speaks for itself.
Similar Artists: Drottnar, Sacrificium, Impending Doom