Paganland - Wind of Freedom
Svarga Music
Folk Metal
8 songs (37'45")
Release year: 2013
Reviewed by Alex
Surprise of the month

Paganland is my next foray trying to bring to light another little known Ukrainian folk metal band from Svarga Music label, an entity fully dedicated to uncovering and promoting authentic Ukrainian metal, folk, black and otherwise. L’viv based Paganland actually formed in 1997 and according to their bio even played live in the early 2000s, but then split up. Current Paganland reincarnation is the effort of the original founding member, keyboardist Andriy Shalay (aka Ruen) to bring the band to life one more time.

Paganland waste little time to announce their intentions. The intro Wheel of Eternity intends to take you on the journey back into ancient ages with its authentic Slavic keyboard melody and a marine theme of sorts. Such is the modus operandi of Paganland, not to fall outright into any of the “labeled” metal camps, but instead stay true to the Ukrainian spirit, something they are obviously proud of and intent to celebrate throughout. Wind of Freedom accomplishes this goal in many different ways. Shadows of the Past begins with a heavy guitar, on a narrative mid-pace tempo, taking off later into the song. Power of Spirit and Chornohora (Black Mountain) are a lot more upbeat and uptempo, full of heroic galloping riffs, not unlike those many on Napalm roster (Heidevolk) could come up with. Throughout it all, however, Paganland maintains their identity, not throwing simply recognizable Slavic overtones, but coming up with melodies authentic to the Carpathian region (Gotsuli) they hail from, as in Shadows of the Past and Fogs and Twilights. The superb melody of Fogs and Twilights, arranged and presented in several different ways, as well as Podolyanochka, a folk song beginning with an innocent child’s vocals and then receiving full metal treatment – these are the tunes completely connecting with the one grown into Ukrainian spirit, but also with those willing to learn about it. The closer title track is the last story of the album, told with dignity and honest bias, from someone completely enamored with the place they call motherland.

Not blackened folk metal, although some blasting and harsh vocals are present on the album; not folky power metal, although the riffs of Power of Spirit may hint that way – Paganland is trying to carve a niche for themselves, where they are playing their folk metal with both romantic and archaic edge, invoking mystical and spiritual ghosts, and at the same time projecting honor and pride. The synth leads often take on the kolyada feel, and Paganland employ a wide variety of vocal approaches, from clean singing to gang choruses to extreme, but not too harsh, lower voices. While the band’s music convinced me completely, from their witches’ dancing to riding into battle co-existing on the same track (Power of Spirit), the clean vocals by Volodymyr could stand improvement, from both power and clarity standpoint. As they exist today, the clean singing is pushed back into the mix not leading the way enough.

Even more authentic to the areas of Western Ukraine and Carpathian mountains, Paganland is certainly worth of the attention of those into earlier works by Nokturnal Mortum and Drudkh (without an overt nationalistic message).

Killing Songs :
Shadows of the Past, Power of Spirit, Fogs and Twilights, Wind of Freedom
Alex quoted 86 / 100
Other albums by Paganland that we have reviewed:
Paganland - From Carpathian Land reviewed by Alex and quoted 86 / 100
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