Review Summary: Folk metal gallop of a record that (thankfully)manages completly without a Lute
Pagan Reign, you may be familiar with them but if not allow me to introduce them.
A Russian 5 piece formed in 1997 they specialise in pagan folk metal ,main lyrical theme being Slavonic pride although they (the band) are anxious to point out that these do not support national socialism. I for one find that refreshing although it does make little actual difference considering my complete lack of Russian .
Instrumentally Pagan Reign include many of the folk staples on this record ranging from flutes to a Mandolin via the usual array of pipes .They then add metal guitar (of course ) fast paced drumming and beautiful rotating rhythms .The thing that strikes me about the music and maybe sets them apart from other folk acts of this nature, is the air of black metal running a consistent thread throughout ,aggressive barking vocals ,angular guitar riffs and an atmosphere that exudes ancient desolation build around the melody and coupled with the own language vocal leaves you with a real feel for the lyrical theme without ever actually understanding a single lyric.
The album is nicely measured with no tailing off towards the end .The 12 tracks are equally valid with no apparent filler .I like the way each song is dual paced in itself ,almost everyone building to an crescendo which helps to keep the flow moving at a swift rate throughout .You know for every quiet softly taken lead there will be noise and mayhem to follow. Another aspect I should mention are the guitar solo’s which I particularly liked as I hadn't expected them let alone of the quality that they are .
This is melodic, blackish folk metal with speed that steamrollers over you at points only to soothe your troubled brow (I’m assuming being steamrollered leaves you troubled) with a mesmeric acoustic segment full of ambience and meaning .I even dig the keyboards throughout and the bagpipes which fit surprisingly well. The pipes, in general, are really well played and come in at appropriate times which is fair to say of all the instruments, each serves a purpose and is not just there to make the inlay look attractive.
Summing up ,this offers more than it says on the tin, is darker and more aggressive than you might expect of a folk metal band (even a Pagan one )The pace is lightening and the players can certainly handle their instruments (yes even the bagpiper)
Stand out tracks include , Slavonic Rise, In The Time of Tales and Rarog
I’d recommend this to any fan of folk or black metal in fact