Review Summary: An excellent modern Black Metal release worth its weight in gold for its truly astonishing title track.
Suffering Jesus! Someone must have forgotten this album buried amongst a cold Norwegian ruin right? I mean, how else do you explain how a band this excellent has managed to stay exceedingly unnoticed during a period of time that forces the average BM fan to flounder under a sea of mediocrity? Is this band comprised of 7 virgin-raping, Christ-munching, uber-druids? The absolutely astonishing title track would imply that yes- it is! Perhaps Pagan Hellfire is really a group of fjord-born, Tolkienesque Tree Ents manifested through black magick and handed conventional metal instruments. The inhuman vocals and spot on percussion (which would imply the branches belonging to said Tree Ents are being used as drumsticks) dictate that this is a likely possibility. Well, as a matter of fact, both of these perfectly reasonable options are incorrect! Pagan Hellfire is actually one enigmatic Atlantic Canadian fellow by the name of Incarnatus… and I have it on good authority that this is a pseudonym. Apparently, his real name is ‘Frank’.
That is painfully metal.
This is without a doubt one of the best 2nd wave throwback albums to have been released in the last 15 years. Pagan Hellfire wear their influences proudly on their sleeves and while this can leave many contemporary black metal albums feeling derivative and lifeless, “Solidarity” manages to shatter the stereotype. Most of the riffs on the album recall a combination between the icy-driving feel of “A Blaze…” era Darkthrone and the epic black melodic-ism of early Burzum. Incarnatus manages to incorporate these influences with enough of his own original style to keep this album continuously interesting and entertaining. The percussion is flawlessly executed and manages to stay away from the “just keep blasting until the tape runs out” approach of many contemporary outfits. It never gets over complicated, generally keeping a good mid-pace, but there are many well placed fills and an engaging use of cymbals that clearly indicate Incarnatus knows his way around a drum kit.
The production quality of this album is another high point. It retains enough classic ‘coldness’ to satisfy your silly kvltster friends while ensuring all musical elements remain audible in the mix. Vocals, guitars, drums and even bass all complement one another without any one particular element over shadowing the others. A trait not often found in solo basement black metal!
Essentially, this album eats faces, nuns and babies. It is an excellent addition to any BM collection and a purchase you can feel confident about. To utilize and already over used phrase- Pagan Hellfire are not reinventing the wheel with ‘Solidarity’. They are however, getting it back up and running with a vengeance! Proof that new Black Metal does not have to suck!!