Monday, August 22, 2011
Get into: Pagan Hammer
Pagan Hammer sounds basically like an Americanized version of Ukrainian melodic black metal, but it also sounds basically nothing like that, so describing what it sounds like is rather challenging. It comes off as droning and modern, but not even remotely attached to the sweatercore post-black metal scene, and it's ambient and archaic without really throwing back to traditional black metal at all. Calling it "black metal" is itself something of a stretch, because it's not as though this music ever references Mayhem or Darkthrone to any great degree. What this really sounds more like is Animus- with a lusher production style and a more overt sense of riffing, but Animus nonetheless. It has a similar quality of black metal stripped of the heavy metal and thrash; the very idea of tremolo riffs and binary programmed drums are given a character of their own through the writing.
The production style of all of Pagan Hammer's music is essentially the same: thick, powerful streams of guitar and bass with drums and vocals so reverb-drenched and pushed in the background they just seem to whisper around the edges of the songs. The effect: music composed of simple yet surprisingly elegant, droning melodies cut from a melodic sense somewhere between Summoning, Burzum, and Amon Amarth. Though in construction this is similar to Animus, the pure sound resemblance goes to Branikald and the Blazebirth Hall scene in general; the Slavic references in Pagan Hammer's music are distinct and undeniable, and yet there's an intrinsically American quality to the songwriting which makes it intensely unique.
As for what makes Pagan Hammer's music so awesome and endlessly fascinating to me- I'm not really sure. It's a core of songwriting that feels so natural and organic that it's easy to fall in love with. Similar to a band like Dub Buk, who also don't have any elements you can define as distinctly DIFFERENT from any other band in black metal, Pagan Hammer uses the rather steady, rounded, straightforward nature of its music to create entrancing and impossibly memorable compositions. There's not much to say, really- you have to hear it for yourself.