Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Pan - Driftwoods (2014) / 73%

I wouldn't lick the pan just yet...

This trio from Michigan plays a very hard to categorize sort of metal, I had a tough time choosing a tag (I know, I know, it's all just music maaaaaang but I like classifying genres) when I approved them on the Archives, I finally concluded that they were “progressive doom/stoner metal”and that's perhaps the most accurate way to describe them albeit it's not encompassing their whole identity.

Driftwoods is their second self released full length. I'm not familiar with their debut though, I'm discovering them with this one and they're a promising young band but I believe their identity is not fully discovered yet. They mix the sort of groovy stoner you'd expect from an American band in 2014 but without much of the trendiness or poppiness of the Baronesses and The Swords of this world. The way the album is structured is almost totally borrowed from one of their main influences, Opeth. It's long, plodding songs all between nine and thirteen minutes and it made this album a very hard one to get into since it's rarely a winning formula to develop your songwriting this way. Unfortunately, while I appreciate their sound, they didn't succeed at the navigation of river songs expedition even though they had some cool tools and equipment, maybe their future endeavors will be more successful.

The vocals of Chris Boris (cool name, the band should include some influences from the Japanese seminal band!) are pretty varied, from deep cavernous growls inspired by both the sludgey side of stoner/doom and the hey days of death metal Opethian material but not as mighty as the (nowadays sore) throat of Mikael Akerfeldt. Nevertheless, Boris does the job and he's enjoyable enough for the style they play. He's also using, you could have guessed, clean vocals and he's including them a bit more than sporadically. They're main parts of songs such as the groovy southern vibes of closer “Slow Waters & Grey Skies” and they're well integrated within their compositions. I can't say I'm quite a fan of these semi shouted vocals such as in “The Ancient Isle & Disillusionment “ though, they seemed pretty toughguyesque in their approach and that's a no-no for me.

Maybe the band is too much varied for its own sake, when you try to include too much stuff, you risk losing a sense of direction and that's somewhat the case here. It's both a sort of blur since the songs are so long and some kind of mixed faux pas since melding genres together is no easy task. Still, the band delivers some well written riffs and they have a shitload of potential. It's not bad, it just gets boring fast and that's a problem usually solved with concise songwriting. The band relies too much on repetitiveness and they take too much time to develop their songs like the useless two minutes introduction of “Civilization & The Old Way”. They even include a semi black metal feel in the riffs since well, the album wasn't still diverse enough!

Production wise, it's pretty damn good for a self release album. The trio is solid instrumentally, the guitar is heavy, the bass is solid and noticeable and the drums is inventive and fun.The band doesn't have guitar solos or super uber great leads so the transitions inside these songs are not the greatest and it's a contribution to the bloated feeling I get from Driftwoods.

Nonetheless, Pan is interesting and they're worth checking out. Not sure what crowd they'll appeal to though, I mean it's not overly progressive, not that heavy as far as doom/stoner is concerned and the extreme metal elements are not quite well established. But eh, I liked them, it's honest to their influences and their hard work is apparent. Let's see what they'll do next.

Thanks to the band for the CD. Check their Facebook page

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