Sunday, September 21, 2008

Album Review: Panychida - "Paganized"

Panychida - Paganized

Artist: Panychida (Czech Republic)
Album Title: Paganized
Record Label: Folter Records (Germany)
Released: 2007

The problem with putting together a "Best Albums of the Year" list is that I'm always finding great releases from previous years that make me want to modify my list on a constant basis. After publishing my 2007 list on the Myspace for my solo music project, I kept discovering great albums that I had not even known existed at the time. One of those is the debut album by Czech band Panychida, signed to Folter Records. Folter is the label that releases Skyforger's music (except when licensed by other labels), so I mainly bought this album because of that fact. I wasn't sure what to think based on the few samples I heard, but fortunately this would turn out to be a very good purchase.

This West Bohemian band calls their music "paganized" metal. I don't know exactly what "paganized" metal is, whether it's black metal with pagan elements, or what, but, lyrically, Panychida seems to be influenced by both fantasy and Slavonic Paganism. Most of the lyrics, except for the final track, are in English, and they're very creative, though I have no idea what most of them are talking about. Musically, Panychida sounds like a mix of black metal, thrash, and maybe a little traditional heavy metal mixed in. A guest musician plays bagpipes, which sounds great, but I wouldn't say that the addition of bagpipes moves the band quite into "folk metal" territory. The cold, croaking vocals remind me quite a bit of Abbath from Immortal, which means they sound vaguely like Popeye the Sailor. I dig vocalist GHM's accent, though, and he seems to have a good grasp of the English language, which is never a guarantee when you're dealing with music from non-English-speaking countries [Edit: ...or even English-speaking countries, as our language has been butchered in modern times].

The rest of the band sounds good as well. You can even hear the bass sometimes! In their live shows, Panychida seems to rely on a drum machine, but on this album the drums were played by guest musician Honza Kapák, who also helped with the recording. I wish they could recruit this guy full-time, because he does a great job on the drums, and even plays a little hand percussion in "Final Donation to the Oath." Guest Helca Petrakova, who plays the bagpipes and flute, also does a great job. The bagpipes sound to me like Scottish Highland bagpipes without the drones, rather than the thinner-sounding bagpipes I normally hear in this kind of music. I suspect that the bagpipes played here are the traditional Bohemian bagpipes, the "Dudy," but the credits do not specify so I don't know for sure. It gives the music a bit of a Scottish-sounding flavor to these untrained ears, like the bagpipes used on Suidakra's Caledonia. The traditional instruments are not over-used on the album, and they don't detract from the thrashy black metal nature of the music.

I can't really think of any negatives about this album. I'm not sure how much depth Paganized has, but it has a fun atmosphere and makes for a very enjoyable listening experience. This is an album I like to play in the car, as it sounds great in my stereo system and is nice to drive to. I don't really know what that is supposed to mean, but I felt I should mention it anyway. Fans of pagan metal should certainly listen to some samples from the album, as Paganized is a really solid and enjoyable album from beginning to end, and perhaps is one of the great overlooked gems from 2007. Don't let the dull artwork deter you from checking it out.

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