Released: 2013, Svarga Music
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Paganland present to us Wind of Freedom, their first proper album since a split CD five years ago. And so it begins with a typically black metal album intro, all panpipe- type melodies, the sound of running water which continues onto the next track, Shadows of the Past and instantly opens up as something quite gentle and slow on the uptake, but what can you expect from black metal I suppose. Slightly dodgy keyboard effects can be heard and soon after a chanting- type of vocal appears, that transfers over to the main vocalist using his low and gravelly black metal vox. The vocals to and fro between this throughout the song, seemingly telling a tragic story. I’m not sure what that story is, but the next track, Power of Spirit, begins with the sounds of a bloody battle, then takes off into full swing in glorious style. The pan pipes make an appearance again (which I do realise is a traditional feature in a lot of black metal but it’s something I’m not sure I’ll ever understand, it does irk me a tad) as do the town-crier type vocals. I feel as though I’m being told an amazingly epic story, I just don’t know what it is. I’ll put it down to the language barrier but it’s still enjoyable to listen to nonetheless.
Chornohora, track number 4, starts off with the sounds of rough winds, which I can only assume is there to set the scene for the next chapter of this Epic Tale. Of course I’ve listened to many a concept album and do understand the nature of them, but I can’t say I’ve listened to many black metal concept albums, in Ukranian, so with each track I get a little surprise. It’s quite exciting really. The feel of this track is quite sombre, almost melancholy; I get the feeling something tragic has taken place, and it fills me with sadness. The vocals, somewhat operatic this time, help me to feel this emotion, and overall it’s actually a rather wonderful track. Theres not many metal songs, with its blast beats and vicious riffs that can make me feel sad.
Podolyanka begins with creepy child vocals in Ukranian. There has to be significance to this in terms of the storyline, but I’m sure I’ll soon figure it out as the track unfolds. Brilliant guitar and drum riffs promptly kick in, which I’m enjoying (especially seeing as the pan pipes have been replaced with a more tolerable keyboard riff of sorts). This song seems to have the more ‘this means business’ vibe, as if something seriously did go down during the last track, and now this is all about revenge. The guitar riffs are hair-blowing-in-the-wind epic, the drum riffs are wonderfully complex but do not take over, and the vocalist has certainly adopted a more serious tone.
The sound of the waves on a beach begin this next track, Night Forest- have they gone on holiday? Via a forest? The vocalist sounds pained, the riffs overall are a little bland; so far a skippable track. As the track continues, there are moments of genius from all parties, with a few little accents scattered here and there to liven up this otherwise dull number. The vocalist is in full swing on this track, and when he does switch to his super gravelly vocals, it’s a treat. The way the track ends up, which is all marching drums, inspiring speech- type vocals, and forgettable riffs, turns me right off the track as a whole.
Fogs and Twilights begins with the trickling water again. And some twinkly keyboard piece. Once it breaks into heaviness, it’s not too bad but fairly bland. The vocalist could growl some more but he seems to favour clean vocals, which aren’t all that bad but it does get boring after a few tracks. This altogether galloping, wistful track isn’t all that bad as there are some excellent, chunky, heavy riffs and the drummer seems to have grown another set of arms; he’s all over the place and it’s great. I do like this track.
Title track Wind of Freedom starts off a little dubious, but once the main guitar riff appears, faith is installed- until the vocals come in, in full deeply chanting force. I’m undecided on this choice of vocals. It sounds as though something serious has taken place during this album, which has torn apart the community, left them bloodied and beaten, licking their wounds then coming back to kick arse. This track seems like the summary of the story, relishing in their victories and chanting away to show the enemy who is boss. I do hope I’ve figured out the story and should really read up on what the concept of the album actually is.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed being swept up in Paganland and the adventures they embark upon. It’s a cracker of a debut and the lads should certainly be proud of themselves.
Review by Soozi Q