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I hadn’t yet heard of a Pagan Metal Band from Turkey. Psychedelic rockers such as Erkin Koray and traditional music had been the only turkish export articles that had found their way to my desk.
At the latest by the impressing guided tour through Istanbul’s music scene that Alexander Hacke of Einstürzende Neubauten gave in Fatih Akin’s movie “Crossing the Bridge” (2005) you can be sure that western influence and musical competence could create interesting hybrids.
One band that hasn’t been appreciated as much as it deserves in the western hemisphere so far is Pagan.
Founded by mastermind Talciron in the winter of 1995 they recorded their first demo Rehearsal Tape in 1996. It is a weak production which however strikes with catchy, well arranged songs, sometimes with rudimental oriental scales.
The sound leaves a lot to be desired as it lacks pressure and has too many mids an heights, but there are undeniable connections to Ulver’s older works.
The Demo contains four songs, the lyrics are in English and it sounds like, as the name implies, Pagan Metal. It was sold about 100 times.
A bit later (first of february, 1998) they played their first gig in front of 700 people at NIGHTFALLS (a popular tv show from Istanbul).According to the band, this concert was a major inspiration and essential for their continuing existence.
More concerts with Samael and Kreator (1999), Tiamat (2000) and Katatonia (2001) followed.
The release of Heathen Upheaval in May 1998 (about 1500 copies sold) brought them a constant community of fans, always taking active parts in their concerts.
Heathen Upheaval strikes with 7 carefully arranged songs that can be compared with Dimmu Borgir’s For all Tid.
The intro is made by a not too glorious synthie sound which sounds a bit too artificial, but as regular acoustic guitars and hymnically recited monologues round up the music this doesn’t really matter.
It has to be mentioned that even if Pagan partly sound like classic Norwegian Pagan Metal, they’re not at all a copy. Their songs sound fresh and inventive, although there are passages in mid-tempo that appear rather kitschy. The singing is ferocious and very well-mixed.
Altogether, this demo is, in comparison to its predecessor, a giant step into the right direction considering the sound. Both plus one video are available for free download on the band’s homepage.
In september 1999 the band started recordings, planning to make the new material more progressive and more thoroughgoing. They seemed to be ill-fated, the recordings didn’t proceed and after a few changes in the line-up it became quiet. Since 2001 the last two band members, Talciron and VEB, have been carrying on recording, but they are said to have moved and now live so far from each other that they can hardly manage to proceed.