Last year, I had almost skipped Panzerfaust's Chapter I: War, Horrid War. When I finally listened to it, it didn't take me that much time to place it among the albums to return to for the rest of the year, and until now. A band completely unknown to me with a long history starting from the early 00's, which lived through a very obvious change in their path by releasing War, Horrid War in 2019, which lifted them from the average underground corridors of extreme metal to the high peaks of artists to constantly keep an eye out. Momentum has now been growing even more, with the second chapter in this concept tetralogy, Render Unto Eden, attracting the attention of an even bigger portion of the scene. And it's by no mistake.
From all the war-themed metal albums in the world, how many would you tell manage to convey the message and provoke the feeling adequately enough to avoid being crushed by their own pretension? The atmosphere Panzerfaust construct is unique, and with subtle compositional fixes show how well they know how to play and what they're doing. By nature, Render Unto Eden has space for interpretation (compared to a more direct War, Horrid War in my point of view) and has been improved in terms of musicianship, production and mainly, flow. The band masterfully builds the album's intense moments, maintains a dim, menacing character throughout the listen, having placed together five tracks that go along in absolute brilliance.
While the sound is very characteristic of them by now, slight traces of other famous bands of our time can be found in sparse riffing and the more general approach of their aesthetics. Mgła influences can be found in some potent guitar melodies of "The Faustian Pact" (and the stunning structure of this song), but more clearly in "The Snare of the Fowler", just by listening to the drumming session in the middle of the track and on. In Render Unto Eden, the guitar lines have grown, the bass work is impressive and should not be overlooked, drumming is on point, and the depth of the compositions certainly surpasses its predecessor.
Apart from Arkona's Maria Arkhipova, who is featured and contributes to a breathtaking part of the introduction track "Promethean Fire", I also adore the chosen cover for Render Unto Eden, which could be taken from the works of Käthe Kollwitz and specifically The March of the Weavers in Berlin, one of her more popular pieces. Other than the fine aesthetics, "Areopagitica" is the total banger of the record, deserving to get higher exposure, as it is addictive from the first seconds and quite memorable. I think all five tunes are of high quality, but only once the listener invests into the band's world. The closing of Render Unto Eden with "Pascal's Wager" is plain melancholic, offers a smooth transition back to reality and makes up for this hell of a listening experience.
There is backstory to the tracks and the complexity of the album is not so much in terms of technicality but more in the level these musicians understand what they want to write in their music. In my opinion, it's really hard to achieve this and shows endless compositional potential. I know for a fact that the band can be mistaken for nothing special as I almost was in that loop once, yet Render Unto Eden can make a lot of extreme metal records obsolete, and it just makes me wonder how will the next two albums look like in this story. Until then, listen to Panzerfaust and listen to this, but as a whole.