Pantheon I – Worlds Within the Margin

Friday, 29th March 2013

It’s hard to get one’s head around it, but if you’re not up for murder or committed some heinous crime and are in a black metal band in Norway, the media won’t bat an eye at you. Not like it’s any different on North American shores, but the number of high-level BM bands in Norway (read: Dimmu Borgir, Satyricon, Mayhem, et al) would surely warrant some form of appreciation from the national media, right? ‘Tis not the case – just ask Pantheon I.

Now in the midst of doing promo for their excellent, dominating Worlds I Create album, the band decided to shoot some rather ahem, “risky” photos featuring cello player Live Kristine and some nude models (click here to view the pics). Social networking sites like Myspace and Facebook wouldn’t allow the band to post the pics and that was it. No media fuss, no hub-bub, or whacked-out politicians jockeying for air-time. What else does a band have to do to get noticed?

Not like the quartet needs such stunts to get their point across, as Worlds I Create is a smoldering, highly frenetic, melodic, melancholic offering that pushes the BM boundaries all the while maintaining an accessible, enjoyable level of cohesion. It’s one of the year’s most pulsating albums, that’s for damn sure and accelerates the pace set on 2006’s The Wanderer and His Shadow. Blistering caught up with bassist Stavenes to discuss said pics, the deadly new album, and their plan for global domination…

Blistering.com: It has been over two years since the release of The Wanderer and His Shadow. What has Pantheon I been up to during that time?

Stavenes: Since Wanderer, we have been busy rehearsing as well as playing some scattered shows in Norway and countries beginning with the letter F. Especially France and Finland have received tremendous amounts of Pantheon I-love. Apart from that, I believe we played a festival in Germany and the Inferno festival here in Norway. We recorded a song for a horror movie calledSomeone’s Knocking At the Door and we also had a Spinal Tap moment a month before entering the studio for Worlds and needed to get a new drummer.

Blistering.com: There has been quite the fuss around some of the censored/uncensored band shots you took recently. Do you worry this will take away from the music?

Stavenes: Heh, the fuss has been minimal, at least over here. However, the fact remains that people today seem to be suffering from attention-deficiencies and need something a bit… risqué to remember a band name for more than long enough to download it. If I can allow myself a moment of pretentiousness, I’d say that the music of Pantheon I is strong enough on its own not to be demeaned by some promo shots.

Blistering.com: Was there any trouble from the media in Norway? I would imagine at this point they’re quite used to pictures in this vein…

Stavenes: The media in Norway ignores Pantheon I. In fact, the media in Norway ignores most metal bands unless they can provide headlines of the “Satan Sex Drug Orgy Shock” kind.

Blistering.com: I always considered Pantheon I to be a band that didn’t need to thrust its image out front. Do you think people will start to get the wrong impression about the band?

Stavenes: Pantheon I has always and will always be about the music and the quality thereof. We do look like lumberjacks and drink and behave badly a lot, so the impression people get might not necessarily be false….

Blistering.com: Obviously, Wandererwas your first major release and gave the band a “face” in the underground. How do you think that album worked out for you?

Stavenes: Wanderer was a blip on a radar and since most people don’t own a radar station, most people never got around to Pantheon I. The lucky few who did, got interested and so the word spread. Wanderer was the appetizer butWorlds is the main course. [It] might give ya heavy indigestion, especially if you are of the religious persuasion.

Blistering.com: Going into Worlds I Create in essence, was the goal to expand upon The Wanderer and His Shadow? Get more melodic and more extreme?

Stavenes: We always want each new album to be better than the previous one. We take what we have learned from our previous albums and refine that into new and interesting things. Not entirely unlike alchemical transmutation that was a big hit in the 14th and 15th centuries.

Blistering.com: Along the same lines, the album is more mournful and sad than your prior releases. How did you go about striking this balance?

Stavenes: Evolution does not decide, it just happens, unlike intelligentdesign, which doesn’t happen at all. Much the same with Pantheon I, songs happen; they flow in and through us and emerge refined and beautiful/ugly.

Blistering.com: Getting Jonas from Katatonia to sing on “Ascending” was quite the coup. Besides your standing relationship with him, did you always envision his vocals on this song?

Stavenes: We envisioned him singing a song for us, it wasn’t until we were almost done writing the album that we found that “Ascending” was THE song for him to sing. He has a brilliant voice.

Blistering.com: Aside from her role in the aforementioned promo pics, Live Julienne has become quite the asset in the band’s sound. What types of elements does she bring to the table with the cello?

Stavenes: Live Julianne has always been quite the asset for Pantheon I, of course now with the promo pics some people actually wake up and realize there is a cello in Pantheon I. Or at least they know there is a woman in Pantheon I – if we are unlucky they might believe we are a Nightwish-style band. As for her musical input, she brings the classical, haunting voices of the cello to our brutal and surprisingly melancholic instrumentation. And on Worlds, her cello really shines, too often that instrument is lost in mix/master…

Blistering.com: As a whole, the album teeters more toward your black metal roots. Is that a fair assessment?

Stavenes: Well, you know where we come from, and the black metal is like the mob… once you think you are out, they pull you back in.

Blistering.com: How has the band held up in the live setting? I know some black metal-focused bands oftentimes can’t re-create their material live. Is this possible with Pantheon I?

Stavenes: Pantheon I takes great pride in being a live band. We love playing gigs and go out and dominate the world.

Blistering.com: Finally, what’s on tap for the rest of 2009?

Stavenes: We are planning on getting out there in the rest of the world, not only the F-countries and spreading the good word of Pantheon I. And of course, there is rehearsing to be done and another album to be made.

www.myspace.com/pantheoni