Boasting bands like Drudkh, Blood of Kingu, and Nokturnal Mortum, Ukraine has a history of producing some top-notch black metal acts that love incorporating traditional folk/pagan themes. Paganland, formed in 1997, are part of this proud tradition, and look to continue the legacy with From Carpathian Land, their latest studio release.
The opening instrumental track, “Stozhary,” is abreathtakingly beautiful symphonic piece, and really sets the tone for the rest of the record. Even when the heavy, blackened electric guitars and screamed vocals kick in on “At The Heart of The Carpathians,” there’s a heavy dose of melody, similar to the folk-infused metal of bands like Borknagar and Skyforger. Epic really is the best word to describe the feeling each tune has, and the use of folk-oriented melodies also shows Paganland’s reverence for tradition. The title track, for instance, sounds like the soundtrack to a nature scene, thanks to the use of ambient sound and extremely melodic synthesizers.
Paganland’s ability to walk the line between melodic and brutal is most evident on “The Gloom,” which has some fast heavy guitars that still maintain a sense of melancholy that I’ve really come to expect from the Ukrainian bands. While the opening track evokes a sense of serene beauty, “Chuhayster,” the closing track, creates a mysterious vibe, sounding almost like the soundtrack to a scene from some High Fantasy film, which is rich with traditional pagan imagery. If you enjoy the pagan/folk metal bands of the 90s, and haven’t yet heard Paganland, From Carpathian Land is a great place to start, and is a real gem from the Ukrainian pagan black metal scene.