Russian based record label Satanath Records has been spewing out several solid metal releases from the proverbial hellmouth since their formation back in 2012, and Nordland’s latest effort, entitled European Paganism, is no exception. Upon first listen, I was ready to chalk this release up to sub par to above average Graveland worship. But European Paganism is a slow burn effort that requires patience from its listeners. Ten minutes into the first track, Mountain, the intensity begins to brew and the rest of the track continues on an upward trajectory of frostbitten beauty. In an epic 27 minutes, Mountain projects listeners into an ice capped, Northern journey, paying homage to everyone from Bathory to Immortal to Dissection along to way.
Nordland hails from Northern England and is the ambitious solo endeavour of multi-instrumentalist, Vohr. Despite being a one man project, Nordland maintains a full and atmospheric ambiance, expansive in nature. The production on European Paganism is clear and devoid of lo-fi pretentiousness, which creates a more grandiose aura signature to folk and pagan metal.
Since releasing his self titled debut in 2012, Vorh has incorporated more and more Viking elements into his writing and European Paganism is an embodiment of this stylistic progression. The straightforward album title and artwork show Vorh makes no apologies for his gradual immersion into the Viking genre. That’s not to say his prior works didn’t have Viking elements. But Vorh’s earlier releases had an ambiance similar to Drudkh or Ygg and weaved depressive elements into the sound. Every album since his debut has gotten more folky and European Paganism reaches its climax.
Is the latest release an impovement on prior releases? I wouldn’t necessarily say so. European Paganism simply harnesses a different creative energy; more epic and alive. There were, notably, parts on the album that dragged a bit, but the progressions throughout were, on the whole, masterfully executed, which helped me keep interest. “A Burning of Idols” is arguably the most emotionally captivating song on the album with its frequents bursts into atmospheric bliss.
This is truly guitar driven black metal, stripped to its bones while remaining burly. Nordland doesn’t play orthodox black metal in a predictable way, he adds a heroic kind of power to the feel. As I said earlier, this album is extremely remiscent of Immortal “At the Heart of Winter” era, or even Graveland. Overall, I would say that Vorh is putting England on the map for Viking inspired black metal. This is a solid release.