Paganland - Galizier
Self released
Atmospheric Black Metal
7 songs (32'49")
Release year: 2020
Reviewed by Alex

When I was asked to review Ukrainian Paganland latest album I got a bit of a dual feeling. Sure enough I am familiar with the band and reviewed a pair of their albums for our site when Paganland was still with Svarga (not sure if Galizier is being released through that label). Musically I have enjoyed both Wind of Freedom and From Carpathian Land, so I knew I have a good chance to like Galizier as well. Yet the comment in the e-mail that came with the demo about not associating the band/album with the NS scene, and then seeing the cover art, I knew the review of the album would be both incomplete and dishonest if I only talk about music and don’t mention the concept behind the album and lyrical content that fills it. Thus, this essay is kind of two parts and that’s the only way it can be.

Musically Paganland didn’t abandon their past and built on their particular brand of atmospheric black metal, adding strong militaristic components in Galizier. Even dreamy yet ominous intro Brody-Feldbach foretells something martial with its characteristic tight beats. And from there, the band made it an outright point to reinforce their melodic black metal not only with synths (a feature and staple of the past), but also with aggressive posture and attitude. I would go as far as calling riffs of In the Heart of Forever and UGA not only war-like, but outright daring and in the case of UGA alarmist. There is still a slight folk coloring of fast melodies and passages in UGA and, together with synth filling the spaces, Paganland sound is three-dimensional, bold and panoramic. The vocals also shifted to a militaristic style to suit the album’s concept. Shouting, much more than blackened rasps, sometimes these shouts are clean (The Legionary, UGA), the vocals in Galizier take on a commandeering presence. Cleaner chorus appears to be truly stirring and serving the purpose in In the Heart of Forever just the same as radio propagandistic proclamations at the end of Ideology. Not following a singular pattern or mode, the songs on Galizier cover a wide range. There is rawer racing Ideology, before it crashes and rolls out in double bassed desperation. At the same time there is a fair amount of dreaminess and longing in Galician Night. All of these emotional pronouncements and searches culminate in the rousing riffs and dignified march of the closer Von Wachter, where melody, pride and sadness mix in equal measure.

And now about the concept behind Galizier. Inspired, if you can call injustice and atrocities Russia is administering in Ukraine these days inspirational, by current events in Ukraine, Paganland has invoked how some in Western Ukraine area of Galizia fought Red Plague in the days of World War II. Those people, mostly young men, have voluntarily joined Galizia based Waffen SS regiment to fight the Soviets. This part of Ukrainian history explains the song titles, lyrics of the album, and the most provocative cover art. Some history tomes written about those events in Ukraine depict those volunteers as caught between the rock and the hard place, not really fighting for the Nazis, but having to join them as a last resort in order to relieve Communist terror which came a few years just prior to Nazis invading Soviet Union. Basically, the story of the good guys fighting for the right cause by putting on the wrong uniform. I do not have it as my goal here to examine/re-examine history, so I will leave it to Paganland conscience to decide whether they simply recite history or sympathize with the cause. I suspect the latter, which is their right to express such conviction. Me, however, it is unfathomable to me that those Galizien volunteers knew nothing of the SS atrocities going in Europe or in Ukraine itself. It is simply incomprehensible to me that someone was liberating their country while condoning, if not helping, some of my Jewish relatives to be executed by same SS forces in Babij Yar in Kyiv. I would like to close that atrocities Russia has unleashed and is perpetuating in Ukraine beginning in 2014 is one-sided unjustifiable military intervention by the current Russian regime. I am very proud that a few Jewish relatives of mine remaining in Ukraine have joined forces with Ukrainian and many other nationals on Maidan and beyond to preserve the freedom of Ukraine and its right to chart its own path in history.

Killing Songs :
In the Heart of Forever, UGA, Von Wachter
Alex quoted 88 / 100
Other albums by Paganland that we have reviewed:
Paganland - From Carpathian Land reviewed by Alex and quoted 86 / 100
Paganland - Wind of Freedom reviewed by Alex and quoted 86 / 100
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