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Where is all the *high-quality* Pagan Black Metal?

The thread title is kind of misleading but stay with me here.

Recently I have been thinking about the Black Metal bands which have gained significant popularity recently and which more or less fall into the Orthodox/Religious Black Metal category, namely bands such as Deathspell Omega, Watain, Ofermod, Mortuus, Antaeus, Malign, Katharsis, Acrimonious, etc. (basically anything associated with Norma Evangelium Diaboli and Ajna Offensive). Now, I quite like a lot of this stuff but the point I want to highlight here is more to do with the quality of presentation that these bands share. I think that we can more or less agree, whether we personally like them or not, that these bands produce BM which is composed, performed, recorded, produced, and presented with a level of professionality, competency and clarity which heretofore was uncommon or perhaps even unheard of in BM. Leaving aside for the moment the debate as to whether this characteristic is at odds with the spirit of Black Metal, which I intend to start another thread on, I want to address the question of why we do not get as many (or any?) Pagan Black Metal bands approaching these high-standards of production/presentation? The only bands I can think of which come close are Fauna, Wolves in the Throne Room and Drudkh. Is there something inherent to the Satanic theme which has driven this development? Is it simply a case of Satanic Black Metal being more popular than its Pagan sibling, and hence attracting enough bands and enough fans (i.e. enough talent an enough cash) to drive higher standards or, perhaps, standards more typical of the overground Music Industry? Is Pagan Black Metal condemed to be the fodder of one-man, bedroom-recorded, CDr-produced, Nat Soc BM? I have to confess that I much prefer pagan themes to satanic ones, so I hope not.

You just haven't looked very hard. There are a shitload of bands out there that do the whole "pagan/nature/folk" thing (and most pagan black metal, like most orthodox/satanic black metal, simply sucks).

All I can recommend is to listen to the first Falkenbach, and listen well and treasure it. You'll be hard-up finding any other 'Pagan' Black Metal bands in the aesthetic sense that you are looking for.


You just haven't looked very hard. There are a shitload of bands out there that do the whole "pagan/nature/folk" thing (and most pagan black metal, like most orthodox/satanic black metal, simply sucks).
If you haven't read my post properly I'm not going to repeat myself here for the sake of your laziness. If you have read it properly but have posted incorrectly then, by all means, correct yourself and, if you would, I'd appreciate some examples.

All I can recommend is to listen to the first Falkenbach, and listen well and treasure it. You'll be hard-up finding any other 'Pagan' Black Metal bands in the aesthetic sense that you are looking for.
I've not heard them, I'll make a point of it. But my purpose here is not to get recommendations, although that is a welcome by-product, but to consider the phenomenon of the production/presentation aspect of Orthodox BM and how its exclusive to Satanic BM.

I think its part of a wider phenomenon of the marginalisation of Pagan BM, perhaps to do with its inevitable Nat Soc association, but also, I think, because Satanic themes are 'safe' and fairly reundant as a form of protest in a largely secular civilisation. Hence Satanic BM is more marketable and attracts higher production/presentation values to capitalise on its marketability. Any takers?

I think its part of a wider phenomenon of the marginalisation of Pagan BM, perhaps to do with its inevitable Nat Soc association, but also, I think, because Satanic themes are 'safe' and fairly reundant as a form of protest in a largely secular civilisation. Hence Satanic BM is more marketable and attracts higher production/presentation values to capitalise on its marketability. Any takers?

I agree with this.  A good reason to abandon Satanic imagery altogether in my opinion, it has served its purpose in the history of metal and no longer has much value.

I think its part of a wider phenomenon of the marginalisation of Pagan BM, perhaps to do with its inevitable Nat Soc association, but also, I think, because Satanic themes are 'safe' and fairly reundant as a form of protest in a largely secular civilisation. Hence Satanic BM is more marketable and attracts higher production/presentation values to capitalise on its marketability. Any takers?

I agree with this.  A good reason to abandon Satanic imagery altogether in my opinion, it has served its purpose in the history of metal and no longer has much value.

Or, do as the bands who "got it" in the early 90s did; use satanic imagery in a manner that is more romanticism and self-empowerment than Christian antagonism, although I think it still serves as good opposition against modernized secular christian values.

Quote
Hate prevails, vicious waters has begun
to stir inside my soul.
Allow yourself to feel
the purity of your primal essence.

I light the flame of profanity
and do our diabolical signs.
Blasphemous rites under the nightskies,
our cups are filled with blood.

Tremendous wrath,
inhuman torture, sacrifice to our lord.
Sons of blackness stands united
before the final war.

In the name of Satan,
blood shall be spilled.
In the mighty name of Satan,
blood shall be fucking spilled.

Oh Lord, please take these sacrifices
and grant us the strength and power
to do thine will.

Tremendous wrath,
inhuman torture, sacrifice to our lord.
Sons of blackness stands united
before the final war.

In the name of Satan,
blood shall be spilled.
In the mighty name of Satan,
blood shall be fucking spilled.

Oh mighty hordes of darkness
slaughtering the weak.
Their white breasts poured forth blood,
slaughter of the weak.

The mighty steel of blasphemy
shall fuck their bloody hearts.
We shall kill the whores of Christ,
fuck their bloody hearts.

You just haven't looked very hard. There are a shitload of bands out there that do the whole "pagan/nature/folk" thing (and most pagan black metal, like most orthodox/satanic black metal, simply sucks).
If you haven't read my post properly I'm not going to repeat myself here for the sake of your laziness. If you have read it properly but have posted incorrectly then, by all means, correct yourself

No need to pull out your e-penis.

Quote
if you would, I'd appreciate some examples.

Some examples of pagan/nature bands with good production values (what you seem to be confusing with "high quality", which is a different matter altogether):

Negura Bunget
Marblebog
Raventale
Sear Bliss
Gris
Sombre Forests
Horn
Hirilorn
Wodensthrone
Forest of Fog
Agalloch
Ajattara
Wyrd
Falls of Rauros
Fen

There are lots of them out there, you can post on metal-archives if you want to find more of these bands. Of course, none of these bands are actually any good (and neither are any of the satanic bands you posted, for that matter), they just do the whole Drudkh/WITTR thing.

Nothing personal, it just irritates me when I get an answer that doesn't refer to the question asked and then accuses me of ignorance.

As for the list of bands, aye some of them do approach the production/presentation standards, some of which, admittedly, I should've thought of. On the other hand, many don't, especially in terms of post production and presentation of the final product. Furthermore, and in addition to the original point, these bands certainly do not represent a development/movement unified enough to encourage the use of a sub-genre title. I suppose the question could be better refined to: Why is there not parallel development to Orthodox/Religious Black Metal in the field of Pagan Black Metal?

And aye, I'm aware of the limits of the term high-quality, hence the opening disclaimer/warning.

Nothing personal, it just irritates me when I get an answer that doesn't refer to the question asked and then accuses me of ignorance.

As for the list of bands, aye some of them do approach the production/presentation standards, some of which, admittedly, I should've thought of. On the other hand, many don't, especially in terms of post production and presentation of the final product. Furthermore, and in addition to the original point, these bands certainly do not represent a development/movement unified enough to encourage the use of a sub-genre title. I suppose the question could be better refined to: Why is there not parallel development to Orthodox/Religious Black Metal in the field of Pagan Black Metal?

And aye, I'm aware of the limits of the term high-quality, hence the opening disclaimer/warning.

It's probably wrong to compare the production values of pagan BM with orthodox BM. There is no parallel development because both developed in a different era. Orthodox BM developed in a time where high production is easier to acquire with cheaper products. Pagan BM followed much sooner in the shadow of the "first wave of Norwegian BM" and has since been its retarded cousin. If I compare contemporary pagan BM with orthodox BM I notice the pagan bands stick to standard production values while orthodox BM and bands like Xasthur have a very "manufactured" sound and are designed to sound "different" to fool the crowd into thinking they're new and edgy.

I don't agree with your notion that most pagan BM sounds like bedroom black metal. The stuff that sounds like bedroom black metal simply is bedroom black metal, whether they sing about Odin, Satan or the tooth fairy. Most of the pagan metal I've cared to hear had (semi)professional sound quality. But then most of the pagan metal I've heard I wanted to forget about as soon as possible.

One last thing about production values in general: whether the production sound is good or bad is very closely connected to the music itself. Some albums simply need great production to be able to appreciate the music for what it is, for instance In The Nightside Eclipse which barely even makes it through production. While other albums such as Transilvian Hunger would probably lose their magical shine if they had good production.

 One could go on for days about cheesy, dime-a-dozen Vikingpop bands that aren't worth a damn. But If you want GOOD music influenced by Pre-Christian Germanic culture listen to these guys.

Bathory
Burzum
Enslaved
Falkenbach
Graveland
Horn
Ildjarn
Myrkgrav
Nokturnal Mortum
Summoning
Unleashed
Wardruna (not metal)
Windir

It's probably wrong to compare the production values of pagan BM with orthodox BM. There is no parallel development because both developed in a different era. Orthodox BM developed in a time where high production is easier to acquire with cheaper products. Pagan BM followed much sooner in the shadow of the "first wave of Norwegian BM" and has since been its retarded cousin. If I compare contemporary pagan BM with orthodox BM I notice the pagan bands stick to standard production values while orthodox BM and bands like Xasthur have a very "manufactured" sound and are designed to sound "different" to fool the crowd into thinking they're new and edgy.
Hmm, possibly but if we view Orthodox BM as a consolidation/continuation of the Satanic thread in BM, as opposed to a unique and later phenomenon, then the question still stands - why has Pagan BM not been consolidated/continued in a parallel way? Furthermore, I would say that they both strands had a similar starting point in Scandanavia since the key Norwegian bands covered both pagan and satanic themes early on, either one after the other, as is the case with Bathory, or simultaneously, as with early Burzum and Darkthrone.

Hmm, possibly but if we view Orthodox BM as a consolidation/continuation of the Satanic thread in BM, as opposed to a unique and later phenomenon, then the question still stands - why has Pagan BM not been consolidated/continued in a parallel way? Furthermore, I would say that they both strands had a similar starting point in Scandanavia since the key Norwegian bands covered both pagan and satanic themes early on, either one after the other, as is the case with Bathory, or simultaneously, as with early Burzum and Darkthrone.
Like Umbrage said, it has to do with the starting time of each type of metal.  Location also seems to be a large factor.  Most of the pagan bands I've heard about or listen(ed) to come from the former Soviet Bloc while the orthodox bands tend to come from NATO countries.  Modern Graveland is a good example: the production is good, but its still not good in the way AVFN seems to want.  Nokturnal Mortem's newer stuff is well produced (garbage) but it nonetheless just sounds different to the western sound.  I have no real way to quantify it or describe it, so it may very well just be my perception, but a Slavic band is going to sound Slavic and a Germanic band is going to sound Germanic (except for Varg, as he speaks fluent Ukrainian and may well become a Cossack Chieftain).

You might want to check out Xerion.  They are from the same area of Spain as General Francisco Franco.  Their first album Nocturnal Misanthropia might not quite fit the standard on production, but is an overblown, cheesy but rewarding listen.  The bass guitar work takes a leading role in theme introduction and development that is too often ignored in metal (except for Varg, his bass on DMDS is fucking amazing, Life Eternal anyone?).  Their second/third albums would probably be what you are looking for.  I've heard the second one, and it sounds really good, but is a terrible mess of post-traumatic cheesy discharge; aimless wandering with one nice melody played for four measures.

It's poorly produced and presented because it's PAGAN. durrrrrr

GRAVELAND!