Review: Pagan (Tur) “Rehearsal Tape ’19” [Saturnal]

Review: Pagan (Tur) “Rehearsal Tape ’19” [Saturnal]

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The music label Saturnal have decided to release the rehearsal of Turks Pagan, which they have already released digitally by themselves year ago (and they’ve got a contract for a full-length album as well with Saturnal). This news the black metal community received with enthusiasm. Pagan is counted as one of the cult bands of underground black metal, and after 12 years they are preparing for concerts and new material. And that’s no wonder, they are one of the first black metal pioneers in Turkey, started to play traditional black metal in 1995.

This is not a full-length album or compilation mixed with some new songs, this is re-recorded rehearsal of their old songs in the studio after the underground ‘zine Laneth asked them to play at their organized show. So, on this demo record Pagan rehearsed old (and beloved by fans) and classic songs from the earlier demos and one and only full-length album “Oz: In Transcendence”. On the earlier demos from the 1990s the quality of sound wasn’t too great, so that’s an opportunity to enjoy the favorite songs with a better quality.

Unfortunately, there are no revelations or experiments, but that wasn’t Pagan’s goal, they’ve just rehearsed their old songs to present them in more intent and wicked way in preparation for live concerts. The material is pure and classic in traditional way, which is typical for black metal scene in the end of the 20th century. They definitely were inspired by Mayhem, because their “Freezing Moon” is echoed everywhere on this record. But Pagan’s music isn’t so malicious as opposed to Mayhem, it is more positive, and with some great reserve, it can be compared with proto-black, which is far closer to heavy metal (when black metal was young and only took its shape). So, the heavy metal influence is significant on this rehearsal demo, especially in relation to rhythmic structures.

There’s the slowing of pace on every track throughout this album, sometimes even multiple times per song, but that fact doesn’t change the overall shape of the song, this slow-downs sound appropriate and harmonic. The songs are rather fast or mid-tempo, but sometimes the pace accelerates to real craziness (like in the songs “The Wyrmweaver” or “The Ascending”). “The Wyrmweaver” is also the more chaotic song, but during the decelerations, the song takes on more reflective tinge. Every song is based on one guitar riff, primitive and short, that is very obvious on the song “Elenyr”. Basically, there’s no accent on certain instrument or voice, every band member knows his job and does it well enough without standing out, teamwork is more important here. The guitar solos are in the same style as all the guitar work, primitive and short, especially on the song “Shamanic Flames”. The vocals aren’t prominent too, a relatively low screams with deeper intonations during the slowest passages (like on the first song “The Longing and the Ancient Ones”).

The change of pace is everywhere on this record, but it can’t help to diversify the songs, so they are quite similar to one another. But in general, the high-quality material is listenable and quite enjoyable, and it feels like the time is frozen, when the black metal was in its prime. Of course, it’s curious to know, what kind of music Pagan will present on their next full-length album in 2021, probably they will stay true to canonic and qualitative material because that’s what Pagan do sincerely and from the heart.

Release date: May 19th, 2020

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