It’s late January and the year is just starting to warm up. We’re finally starting to see labels hit their release cycle and break the resounding silence that comes with the start of a new year. One of the first releases of 2019 that I’ve been anticipating is Metal Inquisitor’s fifth studio album, Panopticon. It’s been five years since their last album, but Metal Inquisitor have shown remarkable consistency over the years and that’s exactly what we get here.
Metal Inquisitor’s consistency and style makes for a very safe listen. They have that “Freewheel Burning” classic sound of 80s Judas Priest meets Saxon with the signature attitude and grit of German legends Accept. You know what you’re gonna get when put on a Metal Inquisitor album and that’s perfectly OK. Formed in 1998, they come well after the classic 70s and 80s bands, but nearly a decade before the mass revitalization of classic heavy metal. Five full length albums and twenty years later, they’re still fighting the good fight and carrying the heavy metal torch proudly.
Guitars are at the heart of this tried and true style of metal and Panopticon is certainly no exception to this rule. It’s clear from the first notes of the opening track, “Free Fire Zone”, exactly what we’re in store for – dueling twin guitars and high energy riffs. Unsurprisingly, this persists for the full forty minute duration of the album. Normally in this style, the bass takes a backseat to the twin guitars, but it’s not the case for Metal Inquisitor here. The bass is resoundingly loud and clear in mix which gives it room for interesting lines that otherwise would be buried. The production in general is very well done – it’s crystal clear and gives a modern twist to the album while retaining enough of the oldschool feel.
Everything about Panopticon , from the instrumentation to the vocals to the production is good. The album makes for a nice listen, but ultimately takes very few risks and isn’t as impactful as it could be as a result. I would have liked to see Metal Inquisitor be more ambitious and push the envelope in some way. Whether it be with melodies like they did on 2005’s Doomsday for the Heretic, or by varying their formula a bit, I think they had opportunity to experiment that they didn’t take. As it stands, Panopticon is a solid addition to Metal Inquisitor’s catalog, but it doesn’t strongly differentiate itself from their previous efforts.
If you’re craving a Judas Priest like fix, then look no further than Panopticon . Metal Inquisitor make it damn clear that they love the old school and intend to keep it that way. If you’ve enjoyed their previous efforts, then this is a no brainer.
Album Rating: 82/100
Favorite Track: Beyond Nightmares