Panychida – Grief for an Idol

Good pagan metal, where art thou?  Any time this guy right here has an urge to release the catharsis of the pagan somewhere deep in his being, he goes straight to Eastern Europe.  Partially because his roots lie there, partially because he can speak one Eastern European language and understand some others, and also partially because Eastern Europe is really the only place in the world where true pagan metal reigns.  What a statement, sir!  Why is this?  Well, it's pretty simple, the Eastern Europeans, the Slavs if you prefer, never really removed their pagan mantles from long ago.  There's a vastly rich tradition of pagan belief in that region of the world, with awesome creatures like the rusalka lurking in the shadows of forests that really are as old as time, along with very un-Christian beliefs no one could get rid of.  You even have a movement over there, translated essentially as "Mother Faith", that seeks to return willing Slavs to their pagan roots.  We're not talking about doing it for fad, for look, for image with corpse paint and Venom shirts, we're talking about actually exploring paganism and making it a modern reality.  Eastern Europe is the real deal when it comes to this.  Sadly, when this awesome gift of the pagan Gods came in the mail, it somehow got moved into the bottom of the stack, forgotten until just recently.  Forgive us, Perun, twas not our fault.  Panychida are true pagan metal from Pilsen, in the Czech Republic, and if you don't know already that their name hearkens back to Slavic practices of worshipping the dead, then get out, only true pagans may venture further from here.

  

Grief for an Idol just looks splendid, look at that cover.  It's so pagan you'd swear it was a temple rubbing from a cavern deep in the Carpathian Mountains.  If you set it on fire, a deity appears before you demanding an answer for why you summoned it.  It evokes the ancient blood coursing through these veins to return to the ancient traditions, to shut off the electricity and begin a hellstorm orgy of forgotten rituals.  But, hey, okay, even though there's even a sick shirt with that art on it, let's hold up here, because without the music to back it up it's merely an image.  And if that music isn't there, it isn't even deserving of being called anything remotely close to 'pagan'.  Fagan, more like.  Will the sound touch the strings of this pagan soul and awaken dead spirits?  These fingers of mine tensed, they shuddered, my palms began to sweat the disc was placed in this most un-pagan computer.  Will Grief for an Idol summon the ancient ones?  Yes, oh yes, forever and ever and ever...

 

One of the things that Panychida does that's so spectacular, to start with a general overview, is they manage to create pagan metal using the expected folk traditions, but somehow without sounding like a God damn medieval minstrel at a Renaissance festival.  For the love of God, people, the Slavs didn't even have a freaking Renaissance.  So when you hear the bagpipes playing here, your blood actually boils, it's too incredible to believe, they've actually managed to make a stinking bagpipe sound spectacular in the middle of a sick riff.  In fact, if it weren't for the bagpipes the riff wouldn't survive, and how is that possible?  It's possible because Panychida are Gods of pagan metal, they deserve an entire enclave in the woods dedicated to them with idols carved from ancient trees. The pagan imagery and references are there, and they abound, and thank the Heavens they're not stupid for once. But the music, oh yes.  The riff action in Grief for an Idol is splendid, but the mixture of the necessary shredding with folk elements is what really makes this shine. Folk instrumentation has been brought to its required level of integration here, it's fluid, not forced. And the vocals include will also meet your expectations.  The screaming, yep, there it is, but then it's balanced with ritualistic chants and fireside-worship dirges.  By the time the album's over you're wishing it's only just begun.  There isn't a single song that stands out over the others, they're all a thread in a traditional ritual towel draped over the altar of dead ancestors all Slavs once had in their homes.  If Panychida keep this up, they're set to be crowned the king next to the queen of pagan metal, Masha, from Arkona.  We'll never stop saying it, Eastern Europe is the only place your pagan metal should be coming from.  Do your research and pop in Grief for an Idol as you explore, there's no coming back.  Best pagan metal we've ever heard around here.

 

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Written by Stanley Stepanic

Panychida - Grief for an Idol
Paragon Records/Werewolf Productions/Cursed Records
5 / 5