Quick Review: ‘Pagan Metal’

M. and I watched Pagan Metal: A Documentary (dir. Bill Zebub, 2009) Saturday night. It was flaccid. We gave up on it midway through. (Netflix has it.)

What we saw was primarily rambling interviews with members of three bands: Alan Averill of Primordial (Ireland), and musicians from Korpiklaani and Finntroll, both Finnish groups.

From these we gathered that what makes this latest subdivision of heavy metal music “Pagan” is that it incorporates (sometimes) folk tunes and folk instruments, although the interviewer seemed uninterested in discussing instrumentation or in discussing any folkish origins of the music in any detail.  (A menber of Korpiklaani is quoted on Wikipedia as saying that they play “old people’s music with heavy metal guitars.”)

The term “Pagan metal” was also left unexamined as to any religious or political connotations that it might carry.

A person might think that a metal band augmented with a skin drum or bagpipes and some fur on the stage costumes was therefore performing “Pagan metal.”

Nor did Pagan Metal function well as a concert film, as much of it as we saw, as it provided only brief clips of live performances without much context.

This video is only for hardcore fans who want everything about Primordial, for instance.

4 thoughts on “Quick Review: ‘Pagan Metal’

  1. That’s unfortunate. I’m very fond of Korpiklaani and many of their songs (the ones that aren’t about drinking) definitely have Pagan lyrical content. They are also astoundingly entertaining live and some decent footage might’ve been enough to get me to buy this even if the interview content was crap.

  2. With all due respect to Finntroll, when I hear the phrase “Pagan Metal,” I can’t help but think of Spinal Tap’s 12″ Stonehenge and “the Dwuids.” As you’re aware, I’m more of a Hedningarna man, prefer my folks with metal influences rather than vice-versa.

  3. I like Hednigarna and similar groups too, and a documentary that explored the whole spectrum from folkish-rock to Pagan metal would have been interesting.

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