Hailing from the city of Lviv in revolution-ridden Ukraine, Paganland certainly wear their nationalism on their sleeves, dedicating this, their second album, to “all Patriots fighting against Russian aggression. The band, who trace their roots back almost two decades, describe themselves as “a group of people holding the same views, who respect and love their native land, their nation, their language and who are convinced that the Ukraine is the cradle of all Slavonic people with improbably interesting history forgotten and distorted for the last ten centuries”. They go on to say that the “group members try to express their love of the native land, the nature in their lyrics and music, as well as draw attention of their listeners to the fact that not only money and lies rule the world in the period of the Epoch of Pisces.”
Their attitude is epitomized by two aspects of this nationalistically named album: the fact that they sing in their native Eastern Slavic language, and their interweaving of traditional Carpathian folk melodies and references into their darkened metal mien – in similar way to, but much more effectively than, their countrymen Drudkh. In fact, the underlying naturalistic themes echo those evoked of their neighbours along the Black Sea coast, Negura Buget.
Given its background of nationalistic zeal and pride, one would quite logically perhaps expect ‘Fatherland’ to have a very militaristic feel to it – and, yes, there are ingredients of that in there, especially in some of Lycane’s drum patterns (such as the background marching beat on ‘Through The Winter Coldness’) and elements of Volodymyr’s chanted vocals.
But, the overall texture is much more organic, indeed ethereal, concentrating more on its evocation and invocation of the blood-soaked terrain of a land which has stood at the crossroads of multiple invasion roots over the centuries but still remains fiercely proud of its individual identity.
‘Fatherland’ crosses effortlessly between black, folk and death metal to produce a wonderfully crafted album packed with winding, hypnotic riffs and melodies and a beautifully evocative vocal from Volodymyr, who relies more on the use of throaty tonality than actual lyrics to evoke atmospherics which match the density of the music underneath.
A good album, which does the job it sets out to do and hopefully one which will help open more western ears to the wealth of folk-influenced eastern European acts which have been struggling to break free of the shackles of their traditionally backward homelands to show how progressive they actually are in their musical thinking.
Світанок Нової Доби (The Dawn Of A New Era) / Голос Карпат (The Voice Of The Carpathians) / Крізь Холод Зими (Through The Winter Coldness) / Зоряний Шлях (Stellar Path) / Слово Рідне, Орле Скутий (Native Word! Shackled Eagle!) / Незгасле Полум’я Слави (The Eternal Fire of Fame) / Вітчизна (Fatherland)
Recommended listening: Голос Карпат (The Voice Of The Carpathians)
‘Fatherland’ is out now on Svarga Records.