Posts Tagged ‘Pagan Metal’

Heidra - The Blackening Tide

Heidra hail from Denmark, and ‘The Blackening Tide’ is their second album, coming four years after their debut ‘Awaiting Dawn’. Musically, the band bring us a majestic, sweeping form of pagan melodeath, and the album is out now through Time to Kill Records.

From the moment ‘Dawn’ rises from the pagan shore you’re immediately engulfed in a grandiose, multilayered epic story. The opener in particular is blessed with a seriously fist pumping chorus, and you can believe that this is merely the tip of the iceberg. The galloping twin guitars of ‘The Price in Blood’ are excellent, and the clean vocals are powerful without ever being grating. ‘The Blackening Tide’ is full of great solos, enhancing these striding battle anthems that capture a world of silver swords, ancient kings and corrupted realms. There’s also a liberal sprinkling of piano and other orchestral elements that speak to the influences of more power metal fayre like Hammerfall or Sonata Arctica as well. None is more epic than ‘Rain of Embers’, although the duelling guitars of ‘Corrupted Shores’ push it close.

If there was ever to be any doubt that Europe produces the best bands with the flair for classically influenced heavy metal, then Heidra’s latest should put that to bed. A great example of thunderous melodic power/death, where symphonics meet galloping In Flames-isms to create a record that the ancient guitar gods would smile about. Cool shit

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Pagan metallers Pereplut hail from Russia, where some of the finest European pagan and folk metal around is hailing from these days. Their new record, ‘At the Ancient TRimes’, is a beautifully constructed collection of songs that yearn for simpler times, that ache of a certain traditionalist je ne sais quoi that is both heart pumping and heartrending in equal measure. It is out now through Stygian Crypt.

After the melancholic and folky intro track, we begin to delve into ancient Slavic forests, hunting for spirits and places where the touch of modernity has not reached. Pereplut have more than a little Korpiklaani about them, but without the drunken piss taking. Imagine the windswept majesty of Metsatoll but with a little more forest magic. ‘At the Ancient Times’ isn’t all whimsy, flutes and ‘plastic pagan’ moments though; there is a defiant metal heart beating in here that mixes some almost Bay Area thrash moments (‘Тропою волколака’) and some melodeath crunch.

By the time the pastoral shades of the last track fades out, you’ve experienced a journey through lost cultures and folk magic. Pereplut may never become the most famous of this genre, but to miss out on an album of this quality would be a crime. Pereplut deserve your attention, so go support them!

Буревій - Concealed Beyond the Space

Lots of albums open with a sample. Be it a movie line, thunder and lightning, or various screams from horror movies. Ukrainian pagan black metallers Bureviy open with crows cawing and tweeting birds, which feels kind of right with their elemental, mystic black metal assault that fades in after acoustic strums shy away. This is ancient Slavic nature worship, filtered through the harshest of biting, black metal winds.

First track ‘Time’ is where the most striking element of Bureviy comes into play, with the shrieking madness of White Fury. Her unhinged utterings mix well with the dark atmospheres that Bureviy put together. This is black metal in the line of fellow countrymen Drudkh, with gentile acoustics and rich clean vocal parts providing an abundance of variety, of which ‘In Bonds of Waves’ is a good example. Heathenism is the focus of ‘Concealing Beyond the Space’, and while their album art reveals a forest snowstorm, there is little of the more experimental instruments you sometime find lurking with pagan black metal. There aren’t violins, nor flutes or anything like that. This is bleak and full of despair, like a frozen shroud has descended.

The songs are a little shorter than you expect to find with this style of black metal, with only really the opener stretching to any kind of serious length. The rest don’t stray too far over the five minute mark, which for those of you who think Drudkh stretch it a bit much is probably about right. Bureviy offer more manageable lengths, and this might draw new listeners who could be put off by 17 minute epics. ‘Concealed Beyond the Space’ is a strong debut full length, and while the banshee shrieks and clean vocal interplay may not be to everyone’s taste, they set Bureviy apart from the rest of the pack.


Drawing inspiration from dark times in their nation’s past, Belarusian pagan black metallers Massenhinrichtung (German for ‘mass execution’) have released ‘Zakon Zbroi’ on Darker than Black Records. It is their second full length, coming a full seven years after their debut ‘Go Beyond Gist’.

After the thrumming, swelling ambience of first track ‘The Dawn Upon the Bug River’, ‘Zakon Zbroi’ kicks into high gear with the scathing ‘The Order of Force’, which is laced with uber catchy melodies within the razor sharp riffing. Massenhinrichtung have this wonderful authenticity about their music. I’m pretty sure I’ve never heard another Belarusian band before now, but it feels very much like tradition instruments and themes are part and parcel of the record. The record is very atmospheric, and reminds me a lot of Drudkh’s more esoteric moments.

‘The Ghost of Devastated Motherland’ is a great example of how to combine folk and pagan melodies of influence without taking away the savagery of the metal. It has some pagan elements but the black metal core is always evident. The additional instrumentation is done elegantly and subtly. ‘The Blizzard’ positively gallops along, with a suitably relentless blastbeat storm bearing down on us, while the ghostly intro to ‘The Paths to Stellar Swamps’ bleeds into a soaringly melodic black metal song with dashes of clean vocals and little Celtic nuances. It’s probably the most accomplished piece here musically, with a ripping solo to boot. ‘The Winter of Belarusian Lands’ is also suitably Drudkh-esque, with mournful violin meshing into the song nicely.

Massenhinrichtung are an exciting band. Combining pagan/folk influences and black metal without hitting every cliche in the book is difficult, but ‘Zakon Zbroi’ ticks all the boxes without seeming passe. The melodic riffs are addictive, while the harder passages provide a welcome headbanging session. ‘Zakon Zbroi’ is likely to be up there as one of my favourite black metal releases of 2015 at the end of the year.


Latvian pagan folk metal heroes Skyforger return with their newest record, ‘Senprusija’, meaning ‘Old Prussia’, and is almost an hour of dark pagan metal dedicated to the tales of the Baltic peoples of old Prussia. It’s been five years since their last, ‘Kurbads’, and its been worth the wait. Side note, and I know its totally unintentional but the cover to ‘Senprusija’ totally reminds me of the cover of Fozzy’s ‘All That Remains’. I know that ‘Senprusija’s artwork is designed to show how there is nothing but bones left of Old Prussia, its just the first thing that jumped into my head.

After a melancholic, folky intro, the title track explodes into life with an icy cold, almost black metal feel. There’s plenty of galloping NWOBHM style leads, and even some pan pipes, creating a fist pumping pagan anthem. ‘Sudavu jatnieki’ is another rampaging folk metal anthem, with some darker heavier moments. ‘Tagad vai nekad’ is one of the best headbangers you’ll hear this year. Skyforger have their pagan and folk roots, blended with some cold black metal in parts, but at the core of their music is an innate sense of heavy metal.

Skyforger have crafted a fine record here, melding together traditional folk elements (see the ethnic chanting on the chugging doom laden ‘Ramava’) with some some great song writing and some great riffs. Holding high the banner of their country’s heritage, Skyforger bring the melody, the heaviness and the passion to ‘Senprusija’. Someone will have to go pretty far to beat this as one of the highlights of any metal genre this year, but particularly folk metal. Cīnīties par godu!!