Alternative Pantheïsm

by Pantheïst

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    High Quality A4 art print on thick A4 matte paper. Created by Cheryl Panagiotou and personally signed by Kostas Panagiotou. Includes FREE download of the 'Alternative Pantheïsm' digital album!

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about

This is not a regular release. It's an alternative 90-minute history of the band through demos, cover versions and tracks that have never been officially released. It gives a hint of what could have been, the potential that was left unexplored. Although everyone is welcome to listen to it and enjoy it, it will be mostly suitable for superfans of the band and people who are familiar with our output over the years.

The tracks have been compiled in chronological order flowing in a manner which enhances the listening experience. Tracks 1-3 are lifted from the unreleased Pantheist demo 'Dying Millennium'. This unofficial demo, released in 2000 in a strictly limited edition of 7 copies, is comprised of instrumental synth compositions of an ambient nature. It was the first attempt to create a unified piece of work under the banner of Pantheist (or rather Pantheïst as the band was called when based in Belgium), and it was also the first musical collaboration between Kostas and Nicolas, who contributed two compositions, neatly transcribed from guitar to keyboards by Kostas. 'Praeludium' sets the tone with its dark, Skepticism-like mood. It even features my first attempts at a 'proto grunt' towards the end. 'Descendance' is an atmospheric track that was later adapted for a composition called 'Descent-dance' on the first Ereipia album. Don't ask why I misspelled the word 'Descent', I must have 'heard' it in a dream. I think that my unconscious was asking me to create a feeling of 'dancing descent'. It's probably my favourite track on the demo. 'Dying Millennium' has been shortened to under 4 minutes here from its original 9-minute length, to ensure this compilation flows optimally. The track is more epic and symphonic than the other compositions, influenced by the likes of Karl Jenkins. No idea what the weird moans I recorded towards the end are all about.
The demo was clearly influenced by the 'turn of the millennium' paranoia we were experiencing between 1999-2000. I remember reading 'The Darkling Thrush' by Thomas Hardy and thinking that not much had changed since 1900. In a way, the beginning of a new millennium felt more bleak than the ending of the previous one, simply because there was no hint that anything was about to change at all.

'For Funerals to Come' was my first proper attempt to sing in Pantheist. The track was recorded for a Katatonia contest which took place in 2001. While it has no guitars, it kickstarted the band for good.

In March 2001 I bought an 8-track recorder and together with Nicolas we finally set to record the first 'metal' tracks featuring distorted guitar. One of the first recordings was a cover of Anathema's 'Destiny'. The idea was to sound like Thergothon covering Anathema (with a hint of Mourning Beloveth for good measure). Not sure whether we succeeded in our efforts, but it ended up as a decent, heavy atmospheric composition in its own right.

'Apologeia' and 'Envy' were the first proper doom metal compositions we ever recorded. It's ironic that when we released 'Amartia' in 2005 some people accused the album of not being the 'true Pantheist sound'! This version of 'Envy' is the third attempt at demoing the track. It was recorded in The Netherlands with Odile (nee Oscar) on drums, Stijn (an early collaborator of the band, familiar from Until Death Overtakes Me and countless other projects) on bass and production duties, Nicolas on guitars and yours truly on vocals and synths. I still believe that this version of the intro of the track is superior to that which ended up on the 'Amartia' album.

We then make a big jump six years ahead for the second part of this compilation. The band had moved to the UK in the meanwhile, and we were searching for a different, more progressive sound. The bombastic 'Eternal Sorrow' was one of the two tracks on our 2008 Promo and it helped us renew our contract with Firebox for another release, which eventually became 'Journey Through Lands Unknown'. This version is quite darker than the one on the album, but not very different in terms of arrangement.

The same can be said about this version of 'Broken Statue', which was taken from our 2010 Promo (this time leading to Grau records signing us). Still on a progressive vibe, with hints of King Crimson and Genesis here and there, this is easily one of our most accessible compositions. I really dig the return of the 'telephone effect vocal' in the second verse of the track, and wonder why we didn't do the same on the album version. Also I'm not sure why I am pronouncing 'statue' as 'stetue' in this version. Luckily I changed this in the studio, undoubtedly after a lot of teasing and piss-takes from my band mates and the engineer, Mr Greg Chandler.

'Be Here' is our only composition so far which follows a simple 'verse/chorus' structure. However, it was never exactly radio-friendly material with its 10-minute length and funereal pace. This acoustic version was recorded at home, with the assistance of my muse Cheryl on backing vocals. It is probably the closest we will ever come to a 'pop edit'. Despite its flaws, I find it a most charming, atmospheric version channeling hippie outfits such as The Incredible String Band and it's possibly my favourite on this compilation.

'The Ancient Spirit' on the other side, is a complete departure. It illustrates our thirst for experimentation and mixing of electronic sounds with (doom) metal in that era. I must confess that, in a spur of exaggerated confidence and misplaced haughtiness, I traced and contacted Mandy from Murkrat, asking her to record guest vocals on the track. She wisely disappeared once I sent her the demo. It has potential and some genuinely interesting parts, but nowadays I feel it sounds more like Muse rather than Pantheist or Murkrat.

It is very interesting for me to hear again this original version of '1453'. I'm sure that those of you familiar with our 'Seeking Infinity' album agree that the album version is completely different. This demo features me on vocals, but the idea has always been for Andy to record the clean parts. This version is more accessible, bombastic and perhaps influenced by gothic metal outfits such as Trail of Tears. It would have been interesting to see this and 'The Ancient Spirit' properly recorded and released on an album, who knows in what direction such compositions would have taken the band.

In the period between 2014-2017, there was a lot of line-up turmoil. We tried to rebuild the band after a continuous departure of guitarists, all of which moved abroad. Valter tried to bring a heavier style to the band influenced by old school death metal. It didn't really work out as it clashed with the mindset of the rest of the band members and we eventually parted ways. My favourite period of this era, were the early days in 2014, where we were just experimenting and trying different things. The aptly named 'Aleksej's Choice' is one of the finest, most chilled instrumentals we recorded in that period, where Valter, Aleksey and I were central to these jams.

Last but not least, Dan and I endeavoured to record a new version of perhaps our most popular track, 'Don't Mourn', in 2018. The idea was to record and release this version independently, and to make a beautifully atmospheric video clip accompanying it. It didn't work out in the end, as I moved to Wales, Dan moved to Romania and our ways parted eventually. This incomplete version is a bit of a Frankenstein monster as it contains parts of the original recording, mixed with new vocals, drums and guitars. Dan did a most excellent job on the backing choirs and I'm sure you will agree this version has its own charm, despite being unfinished: vocals were recorded in one take, and the drums never properly processed. But it still stands in its own right as a valid alternative version of what could have been, which summarizes this whole compilation in a nutshell. Enjoy responsibly!

credits

released September 4, 2020

Recorded between 2000-2018 with various line-ups (see individual tracks for details). Compiled and Mastered by Kostas Panagiotou with invaluable input by Ptolemy. Cover artwork by Cheryl Panagiotou.

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Kostas Panagiotou Wales, UK

Gloomy and atmospheric music in various genres

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