Grau / Soulfood
Pantheist was brought to life in the year 2000 by vocalist and chief songwriter Kostas Panagiotou and guitarist Nicolas Tambuyser. Following various unofficial recordings, the '1000 Years' demo was released in 2001, leaving its imprint on the underground, and in the process helping solidify what is now known as Funeral Doom Metal. The demo so impressed Finland’s Firebox records that Pantheist was offered a recording contract straight away. The result was “O Solitude”, the band’s debut full-length album and an exercise in raw atmosphere that is still hailed as a genre cornerstone today. As testament to the band’s ethos of hard work, they soon embarked on their first European tour with Finnish doom stalwarts SKEPTICISM. They also toured with WHILE HEAVEN WEPT and MOURNING BELOVETH on the following year.
A new chapter in the band’s history was opened following its relocation from Belgium to the UK in 2004 and the subsequent departure of members Oscar Strik (drums) and original bassist Frederic Caure, who were promptly replaced with bassist Mark Bodossian (Esoteric) and drummer/vocalist Andy Semmens (Ereipia, ex-Esoteric).
This was followed by the release of the "Amartia" full-length and "The Pains of Sleep" EP in 2005, two works that set off on a more conceptual journey. Both releases were recorded at The Lodge Studios, owned and run by Robert John Godfrey (of 70s Prog giants THE ENID / BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST). ”Amartia” was the band’s first (and so far only) fully concept-based album, inspired by liturgical and religious themes, and “The Pains of Sleep” further developed Pantheist’s increasingly progressive leanings, while simultaneously keeping a strong foothold in their underground sound and ethos. Both releases received worldwide acclaim and enjoyed overwhelmingly positive reviews, which were followed up with a number of highly successful European shows, including a headlining mini-tour of the Netherlands. “The Pains of Sleep” was the first release to feature current drummer Sterghios Moschos (The Lost Legion) and guitarist Ilia Rodriguez (Indesinence), and would be the farewell recording for original member Nicolas Tambuyser and also Andy Semmens, both of whom relocated to the US and Finland respectively.
2008 saw the band’s 5th release and 3rd full-length for Firebox Records, “Journey through Lands Unknown”. The result of 18 months of arduous work and serious musical and spiritual exploration, and recorded once again as a 4-piece, “Journeys...” harked back to the more personal themes found in the band’s earlier material. Musically, it was the band’s most complex and layered yet accessible and engaging album; one which, in its daring stance towards genre boundaries and refusal to conform to expectations, managed to polarize opinion even further yet still reaped shining reviews and gained new adepts. The band’s reputation as a live act was further bolstered with a number of shows around the UK and abroad; with the addition of Pete Benjamin (AKERCOCKE) on second guitar, the band participated on a second and highly successful co-headlining tour with old friends SKEPTICISM and supported by OPHIS; a tour that ended in Berlin with a venue filled well beyond its capacity and several dozens of people standing outside and unable to get in.
Over the years, Pantheist has come to be known for turning shows into special events. They have performed alongside artists as varied as WHILE HEAVEN WEPT, EVOKEN and BLAZE BAILEY. The band, now with new guitarist Pepijn Van Houwelingen (ex IN AGE AND SADNESS) in its ranks, enjoyed their first foray into Eastern Europe in 2009, on a mini-tour of the Czech republic and Poland in the company of East European underground legends GALLILEOUS and DISSOLVING OF PRODIGY, and also co-headlined with friends ESOTERIC the prestigious Moscow Doom Fest in 2010. In the same year, the band contributed one lengthy track to the conceptual split album 'Unveiling the Signs' (released by Polish underground label Redrum666) together with GALLILEOUS, DISSOLVING OF PRODIGY and WIJLEN WIJ, further cementing their reputation as a band that has the ability to look forward, without forsaking its origins.
Pantheist are firm believers in keeping creatively active, and are currently in the process of finalizing their fourth self-titled album to appear in 2011 by the German quality label Grau. A refinement of sorts, this new collection of songs takes the band’s blueprint and progressive leanings, and merges them into a coherent whole where introspection and heavy riffs go hand-in-hand. With Kostas’ unique compositional and conceptual vision, the original model remains instantly recognisable, but has now been given more space to breathe: there is a larger emphasis placed on songs, yet without losing sight of the value of the whole.