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Pantommind - Shade Of Fate CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

4.10 | 40 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars PANTOMMIND, formerly known as Lavender Haze is a Bulgarian progressive metal band from Gabrovo that made some waves in the mid-2000s when they released a couple albums and played with popular bands like Fates Warning and Helloween. The band was formed all the way back in 1993 but didn't release this debut album SHADE OF FATE until 2005, however they did release a demo titled "Farewell" in 1999 in their native Bulgaria. SHADE OF FATE however was released on Sensory Records, one of the world's excellent prog labels and launched this band to a much larger international audience. The band was also well known at the ProgPower Festival that took place in Baarlo, Netherlands and garnered a minor following after a couple of strong albums that were released separately and then again as a combo package.

While gestated in the far Eastern section of Europe, PANTOMMIND was obviously gazing westward for its inspiration and having formed in 1993, it's obvious that Dream Theater and Fates Warning were clearly at the top of the list. Upon first listen, SHADE OF FATE may sound like any other Dream Theater clone band trying to check off the progressive metal attributes in perfect form and to be fair, there is much in common such as the Tony Ivans' distinct operatic vocals that fly into perfect form and sail high into the heavens above and back. Also on board are the twin guitar attacks of Pete Christ and Peter Vichew who simultaneously offer chunky staccato riff attacks with atmospheric almost neo-prog wizardry with the occasional virtuosic soloing skills of a gifted neoclassical stalwart.

Perhaps the most distinct factor is the keyboard work of Sunny X who paints a more ethereal picture by adopting the styles of bands like Vanden Plas and Sun Caged. The band displays an excellent command of the progressive metal compositional style which nurtures highly addictive melodic drives into meticulously designed progressive constructs that showcase the more intricate influences of bands like Savatage, Crimson Glory and Psychotic Waltz. While not as musically adventurous as bands like Dream Theater, PANTOMMIND rather prefers to keep things well balanced without any long periods of virtuosic wankery. Strewn about the harmonic and melody rich soundscapes are crunchy guitar riffs, rich tapestries of time signature workouts, keyboard rich tone clusters and the chugging polyrhythmic bass grooves of Dido with the power drumming prowess of Drago to match.

Upon first listen i was expecting a much heavier sound similar to bands like Symphony X or even early Queensryche since there is much mellowness interspersed between the heaviest metal displays of bombast. After a few spins though, i was hooked. What PANTOMMIND lacks in overt originality they more than make up for with extremely strong and consistent compositions that take the best aspects of the progressive metal sound and dress them all up with excellent instrumental interplay accompanied by an outstanding production and mixing job that allows the instruments to complement each other to perfection. Add to that the perfect progressive metal vocal performances of Tony Ivan and it's no wonder why PANTOMMIND captured the hearts of so many upon the release of this debut, no doubt because this is a brilliant interpretation of Western prog metal in the most passionate display of bravado.

Not sure why my CD has two extra tracks titled "Forgiving Tears" and "Virtual Ghost" which don't appear on most databases but these bonus features are actually more creative and more dynamic than the 11 tracks that precede it so i highly recommend obtaining SHADE OF FATE as a single album with these extra gems rather than obtaining the combo pack of SHADE OF FATE and the following "Lunasense." Despite nothing really jumping into any sort of experimental originality here, SHADE OF FATE is impeccable in how each track seamlessly flows into the next and balances the heavier and softer passages so well. Perhaps Bulgaria isn't the world's foremost bastion of progressively infused rock and metal but they sure did good by exporting PANTOMMIND to the rest of the world.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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