The Ukraine has spawned a number of Pagan/Folk Metal bands over the years. While Paganland isn’t exactly a newcomer to the scene, they aren’t exactly prolific, either. Metal-archives.com has their founding year listed as 1997, but their this is their first full-length LP. Their previous releases were in 1999 (Gods of Golden Circle demo) and 2008 (Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors/Carpathia split with Тіні Забутих Предків (which translates to Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors), their side of the split was Carpathia). With such a long time in development, the music of Paganland is very refined. Unlike most debut albums these days, the overwhelming majority of the songs on Wind of Freedom are good. Musically, these guys mix a number of different styles, going from Slavic Folk to Black Metal to some elements of Power Metal and even a little atmospheric Doom. Their sound is comparable to bands like Arkona (Russia) or maybe Butterfly Temple. I’m a bit hesitant to include Butterfly Temple because I’ve only heard one of their albums. I’ve always had trouble keeping track of the Eastern European scene, particularly Russia and the Ukraine, because the record stores around here only seem to focus on a few of the larger bands (like Drudkh). Realistically, I should be glad that any record store in the Bay Area stocks music other than the latest Pop trends, but it still makes following underground music hard. But I digress… For the most part, Wind of Freedom is a solid slab of Slavic Folk Metal. There were a couple spots on this LP where things got a little too “beer tent at the Renaissance Faire” for me, though. This happened primarily in songs where they tried to incorporate flute into the mix. A flute is one of those instruments that tends not to work too well with Metal music because it’s a bit too high pitched. The only ones that seem to work are the Asian ones (Shakuhachi or Pgaku), mostly because their pitch is lower in comparison to their European counterparts. I know that it is a traditional Folk instrument, but its inclusion often makes the music sound hokey. Other than that, this is a good album that fans of Folk Metal in the Eastern European/Slavic style will enjoy. Given how long it took these guys ages to put out a debut LP, I hope it won’t be another five to ten years before they come out with a follow-up to it.
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