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Classic material as always - 87%

Noktorn, June 15th, 2010

Well this is the third time these demos have been compiled for Pagan Hammer- to be fair, the original CDr versions are (to my knowledge) out of print, so having the different options is nice for those who weren't lucky enough to get in early on the Pagan Hammer bandwagon. This time it's in the form of a tape compiling the first two demos in their entirety; in fact, this is the first compilation of those demos which features the cover tracks on the original CDr versions. It's a neat little item for completionists who haven't heard the early Pagan Hammer material, but the lack of new material probably makes it unnecessary for fans who already have the rest of the project's work.

These first two demos show Pagan Hammer at its rawest and most minimal: droning Graveland-cum-Animus riffs against rolling ambient rhythms and sparse, reverbed vocals bring to mind Branikald or maybe Bloodaxe on an ambient kick. Both demos are fantastic, as they were when I originally heard them all the way back in 2007. The natural tape hiss of this version of the tracks is actually great when combined with the somewhat rawer, more primitive style of recording; in fact, they sound so good on this format you'd almost think they were designed for it. The tape gives the material a sort of lush warmth that Pagan Hammer profits from given its heavy, bassy sound.

The packaging is very classy and professional, with a pro-printed glossy J-card with an attractive layout (the massive logo on the interior is great and lets you appreciate all its detail). I suppose the deciding factor in whether to purchase this or not comes down to whether you want the cover tracks, which have paradoxically become some of the rarer Pagan Hammer tracks to find, absent on both the promo-only demo compilation as well as the Pagan Hammer I compilation. I've never been a tremendous fan of Pagan Hammer's covers, capable as they are- always preferred his original material- but for what it's worth, the Satanic Warmaster cover is likely the most appropriate given the project's style and works the best with the rest of the material.

This isn't necessary for someone who already has all the material in their originally released forms, but if you're looking to catch up on the early output of the band, this is a great way to do it. Or if, like me, you'd buy a pair of bike shorts if it had the Pagan Hammer logo.