Tag Archives: Pagan Metal

Moonsorrow – Jumalten aika

Moonsorrow - Jumalten Aika

Moonsorrow [Finland]
Jumalten aika
Full Length
Century Media Records
Folk/Pagan/Black Metal

I’ve heard of Moonsorrow since their 2007 album, V: Hävitetty, but being young and impatient back then, the band’s brand of epic metal failed to capture my attention. So it was with little knowledge of the band’s sound that I chance upon this Finnish outfit’s seventh full length album, Jumalten aika. With all the band’s release up till 2011’s Varjoina kuljemme kuolleiden maassa drawing critical acclaim, it is with little surprise that fans of the band hold high hopes for the record, especially with the long 5-year wait.

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Album Review: Abusiveness – Bramy Nawii

Abusiveness - Bramy Nawii

Abusiveness [Poland]
Bramy Nawii
Full Length
Arachnophobia Records
Black Metal

It’s been a long time since we last heard from Abusiveness, with the last full length Trioditis being a rather distant 4-year back. The band’s infectious brand of pagan black metal got me craving for more, and this year Abusiveness returns with their brand new, fourth full length release, Bramy Nawii.

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Album Review: Panychida – Grief for an Idol

Panychida - Grief for an Idol

Panychida [Czech Republic]
Grief for an Idol
Full Length
Paragon Records
Pagan Metal

Czech Republic has surprised me quite a bit last year, with the release of Cult of Fire‘s newest Vedic-inspired sophomore album, easily rivalling gods of Vedic metal, Rudra and their experimental release RTA. Along with my recent obsession over Nokturnal Mortum‘s last release, The Voice of Steel, receiving Panychida‘s new album Grief for an Idol was certainly a nice surprise and addition to my recent quest into pagan metal.

On first look, I almost expected Panychida‘s Grief for an Idol to be a black metal release, and to be honest there was a slight tinge of disappointment upon realising that this wasn’t the case and what was contained on the CD was instead 50 minutes of pagan metal. But any initial negative feelings were quickly dispelled as soon as opening track Dance of the Fiery Stars began. The black metal aesthetics are still present, with the riffs of guitarists Honza and Mira and the gruff vocals of Vlcak easily reminding aficionados of the genre of bands like the Norwegian black metal band Taake.

However, the main difference over here is in the atmosphere that is evoked and the emotions that are roused, ranging from the desperation of black metal, to a hope of silver lining with the melodies that are unleashed on the record, with even some heroic moments with the epic soundscape that is created by the band, such as the a cappella intro on Doomsayer.

The whole range of influences that have gone into the writing of Grief for an Idol easily reminds one of Nokturnal Mortum, in particular on The Voice of Steel. For instance, apart from the clearly black metal aesthetics that Panychida prefers, there are moments where some elements of thrash, or even melodic death metal could be spotted like in the middle of Two Untouched Moments, adding to the already vast variety of sounds that the band has included on the album. Of course, there are the usual folkish elements of the genre, such as the bagpipes on Wayfarer’s Awakening.

With Grief for an IdolPanychida has not only increased interest in Pagan metal, but also in the emerging Czech Republic metal scene as well. The whole range of soundscapes, emotions and stylistics that the band has displayed on Grief for an Idol has shown the versatility and songwriting abilities of Panychida, and this will certainly not be the last that I will be hearing from the band.

Panychida on the internet:
Official website
Paragon Records

Album Review: CrystalMoors – Circle of the Five Serpents

CrystalMoors [Spain]
Circle of the Five Serpents
Full Length
Morbid Shrine Productions
Pagan/Black Metal

Spanish band CrystalMoors was one of the first bands that I encountered in my initial forays into the paganistic style of black metal, with their 2008 debut release Antiqvam Exqvirite Matrem. 3 years after the release of the album, they release the follow up in the form of Circle of the Five Serpents, displaying the continual growth that the band has experienced over the course of 3 years.

The band doesn’t waste any time in introducing their style of music to the listener, with opener Greyland Labaro immediately displaying a heavy folk emphasis in the band’s music, with the various acoustic and folk instrumentation that are utilised. And even as the track finally begins proper, the pagan feel is still rather strong, especially with the riffs that are unleashed by guitarists Faramir and Erun-Dagoth. Their lead playing styles also stick rather closely to the folk metal traditions, with little flamboyance, instead choosing a somewhat more melodic style in reinforcing the entire mood of the music. The synths of Aernus are also constantly present at the background providing the ambient, resulting in an epic-sounding record, and the fusion of all these various instrumentations make it sound like a blackened version of folk metal bands like Tyr and the likes. And for some reason, the sound of the drums on the record also manage to create a rather epic feel, especially with the high mix of the bass drums, sounding like war drums.

While Antiqvam Exqvirite Matrem was certainly a good debut record in itself, there were moments where the arrangement sounded somewhat awkward. On Circle of the Five Serpents though, the band has polished their craft extensively, resulting in a largely coherent-sounding record. The songwriting especially displays this growth, as the band manages to ensure that the listener is constantly kept enchanted by the  music, with a balance of heavier moments and folkish moments. The playing style of the band at times even brings in a slight melodic death metal touch at times, ensuring that this is an album that is not too difficult to digest for those new to the band’s style of music. Furthermore, the clean vocals of bassist Thorgen are also utilised more heavily this time, and he provides that emotional touch, especially on songs like The Cry of Gaia. The versatility and the band’s ability to spring surprises on listeners is best shown on Oregen, a completely savage black/death metal track, a far cry from the style that the band has presented up to the track.

If one were looking for raw, heavy and dark pagan/black metal, then there is no need to look any further than CrystalMoors‘ Circle of the Five Serpents. The band’s musical maturation is evident when placed side by side with their debut Antiqvam Exqvirite Matrem and would certainly please fans of the band’s works thus far.

CrystalMoors on the internet:

Album Review – Heimdalls Wacht – Ekte Westfäölske Svatte Metal

Heimdalls Wacht [Germany]
Ekte Westfäölske Svatte Metal
Full Length
Heidens Hart
Pagan/Black Metal

German pagan/black metal horde Heimdalls Wacht this year releases Ekte Westfäölske Svatte Metal, the follow up to their excellent 2010 full length album, Nichtorte – Oder die Geistreise des Runenschamanen. Crazed screams and shouts of agony greet the listener on opening track Seelenkrieg, setting a rather disturbing mood extremely early into the start of the album. But the band soon goes into their solid style of pagan/black metal as the album begins proper with the title track Ekte Westfäölske Svatte Metal.

The music here reeks strongly of influences from early Norwegian black metal, and comparisons to such pioneering bands as Darkthrone can be easily heard, though more often than not comparisons to bands like Satanic Warmaster are pretty abundant as well, with the trebly riffs that are unleashed, and the playing style of guitarists A.P. and Saruman and the cold, bleak outlook that has a heavy presence throughout the album. However, unlike the aforementioned bands, there is a heavier pagan/folk sound on Ekte Westfäölske Svatte Metal, especially with things such as the additional percussions that are on the album that provide a rather epic sound to the music of Heimdalls Wacht. These additional percussions also serve to create a heavier impact in the music as well, evident on moments such as the intro of Unsiälige Kiär. Narhemoth’s vocals are tortured and savage, further reinforcing that harsh atmosphere that already assaults the listener’s ears.

Apart from the pagan feel, there are also moments where the band goes into somewhat depressive black metal territories, with the somewhat melancholic melodies and the acoustic guitars that are pretty heavily utilised at times, and it is times like these when bands like Drowning the Light are brought to mind as well. The entire focus of the album seems to be on the atmosphere that is created through the coalescing of all the various instruments, especially with the clean singing and frantic chants that appear rather constantly as the album progresses, like on Unsiälige Kiär. Furthermore, the instrumentation on the album isn’t particularly technical nor complex as well, and there are even moments that come across as slightly sloppy, though these instead help to provide a more organic feel to the entire recording.

The raw and trebly production of the album helps to make the songs all the more enchanting, and allows for the raw emotions that are contained within the songs to really seep out and get to the listener, especially in the clean vocals that are contained on the record. Heimdalls Wacht‘s Ekte Westfäölske Svatte Metal is an album that is sure to please fans of atmospheric black metal, with Norwegian black metal roots.

Heimdalls Wacht on the internet:
Heidens Hart

Album Review: Hellveto – Damnaretis

Hellveto [Poland]
Full Length
Pagan Records
Pagan/Black Metal

Despite its formation all the way back in 1995, it wasn’t only from 2002 that Poland’s Hellveto started its spree on full length releases, with Damnaretis being the band’s 15th full length release in a short 10 years. Yet the consistency of the band is rather evident, with each of the releases being rather well received, making Damnaretis a pretty interesting first exposure to this Polish pagan/black metal band.

The pagan/folk aesthetics are extremely clear right from the start, with the somewhat soothing and calming soundscape that the band creates with album opener Damnaretis. The melodies that band mastermind L.O.N. unleashes on the guitars all have a distinct folk sound. The mid-pace that the band goes also helps to reinforce the atmosphere in the music, allowing for the emotions that the band has incorporated into the music to really set in to the listener as the album progresses. Rather than simply sticking to a standard heroic or pagan theme that most other similarly-styled bands tend to do, Hellveto includes a rather nice variation throughout the album, from the soothing Damnaretis, to the rather aggressive Zalobny taniec, to the crushing Wlasnie Tam, sounding like a neverending funeral march, somewhat reminiscent of slower Marduk songs albeit with a heavier atmospheric emphasis here. Apart from the pace of the music, this is also done through the vocal styles of L.O.N., with his alternating between black metal shrieks and clean singing, at times even giving a somewhat melancholic feel to the music with the melodic music at the background.

The songwriting on Damnaretis is also stellar, with no moments on the album to bore the listener at all. Each instrumentation, and the orchestration all come together nicely, particularly the composition on the folk acoustic instruments that are present on the album, and that is perhaps one of the main highlights of Hellveto‘s music, the perfect synchronisation of soothing pagan/folk metal and black metal elements. Each of the songs also flow smoothly to the subsequent ones, ensuring that Damnaretis is one coherent listen, and the band ensuring that the train of thought is not broken with sudden surprises. To be honest, there is nothing too surprising or too out of the blue on the album, and that seems to be the entire point of the band, to ensure that the listener is completely immersed in the universe that is created by Hellveto and Damnaretis.

Few pagan metal releases are truly able to captivate me,  but I have to admit, Hellveto has certainly done one hell of a good job with Damnaretis. The entire atmosphere that is created with the instruments and the orchestration ensure that one is put through an extremely enchanting and captivating journey.

Hellveto on the internet:
Official website
Pagan Records