Artist: Various Artists
Title: “Pagan Fire”
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Release Date: 2/5/2008
Genre: Viking/Folk Metal
So you’ve finally realized that Bon Jovi will take you no farther than New Jersey and that while you love your Metal on the heavy side there are times that the Black and Death stuff could be a little bit frightening. You’ve always found your mood rose when you see pictures of the icy fjords and there is something about those movies featuring warriors of the past and ice cold lager that really gets your energy level going. These are the most commonly visible signs of a Viking Metal fan and luckily for you these feelings are easily dealt with. Your treatment begins with the new Nuclear Blast Records compilation “Pagan Fire”, a rich assortment of Viking and Folk Metal bands from around the world and it’s indeed a roaring blaze of Metal that’s as hearty in its musical content as it is in its deep mythological lyrics. What makes this all the more special is that this isn’t only a Nuclear Blast Records artist display and the listener gets tastes of bands from labels like Metal Blade Records, Napalm Records and Candlelight Music to name a few. The CD begins with a song by Bathory, and it’s a fitting tribute to Quorthon, the founder of Viking Metal, who the world lost sadly in 2004. “Song To Hall Up High” is more of a regal track as opposed to a thunderous Metal one, but this was used more for the respect and honor aspect. A nice touch to begin with. There is a sample of some Enslaved and Amon Amarth who might be among the more popular bands to visit this genre in today’s musical world and their achievements are great, but what intrigued me most about the album was the inclusion of bands that might have not yet hit the radar of fans of the genre. There is a great track by Ensiferum in “Deathbringer From The Sky” from the album “Victory Songs” and a little Primordial and once listeners get their ears set on these bands I can’t seem to think they would not become lifelong fans.
Wintersun offers up a throttling track that while Viking in content also touches upon the Black Metal side just a bit with its Gatling gun blast beats and vocal growls. Falkenbach was a nice inclusion as well, and along with Moonsorrow fall into the darker aspect of the format. I admit I was surprised to find both Finntroll and Korpiklaani on the album as they are more Folk Metal as opposed to anything else. The rousing music from the Trolls is incredible and Korpikaani will prove to you that an accordion player can be a Rock star if they find themselves in the proper band. Make sure you check them out if you are making a list of potential bands to look into when you are done listening to it all. All in all the bands all work well together for the compilation and as result it’s not an uneven listen by any stretch of the imagination. They include a booklet which offers up some facts about each of the contributors and that makes for helpful research and deeper investigation into the bands who you get that teaser taste of. They also make sure to line out the relationships of the bands presented and that is also very useful information. I liked how many Napalm Records artists were featured as the label is very strong in their providing this kind of Metal to the community. Kudos to Nuclear Blast for making sure that they were also a part of this fine compilation. As the CD completes don’t be putting that sword back in its sheath just yet for you have eleven videos to enjoy as well.
DVD: Amon Amarth – The Pursuit Of Vikings, Helheim – Jerskogen, Tyr – Regin Smidur, Battlelore – Storm Of The Blades, Enslaved – Path To Vanir, Einherjer – Ironbound, Wintersun – Beyond The Dark Sun, Ensiferum – Ahti, Finntroll – Trollhammeren, Manegarm – Sigrblot, Eluveitie – Of Fire, Wind & Wisdom.
*** The DVD showcases the Viking Warriors of Metal Amon Amarth in a video that suits their premise very well, but my favorites fall to Finntroll’s “Trollhammen” and Tyr’s “Regin Smidur. Each one captures the spirit of not only the band but their music as well. The Trolls tune is chaos with a Folkish twist and the Tyr clip finds these Faroe Island Metallers in epic battle. Another group that is a worthy addition for the DVD is Battlelore, who actually dress in Middle Earth style garb and perform music based on these realms. There’s quite a bit more to enjoy but I will let you discover them by yourself as it’s all very powerful stuff that is done with such a strong belief in Viking lore. If you weren’t a fan when you first started this compilation there is no way that this was the case when it finished. Now, summon your armies and present your weapons. We ride into battle at dawn for the glory and honor of Viking Metal fans everywhere. Hails and horns!
1. Bathory – Song To Hall Up High
2. Enslaved – Isa
3. Unleashed – The Longships Are Coming
4. Amon Amarth – Victorious March
5. Wintersun – Winter Madness
6. Finntroll – Nedgang
7. Equilibrium – Blut Im Auge
8. Moonsorrow – Kylan Paasa
9. Primordial – To The Nameless Dead
10. Eluveitie – Inis Mona
11. Korpiklaani – Tapporauta
12. Ensiferum – Deathbringer From The Sky
13. Falkenbach – Laeknishendr
14. Thyrfing – Host
15. Turisas – Battle Metal
16. Bal-Sagoth – Shackled To The Trilithon Of Kutulu