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Review: Panychida - Haereticalia - The Night Battles

Invoking themes of ancient and supernatural times, Panychida's latest release stand's as their most triumphant, as they craft their own signature pagan sound inspired by metal, but managing to take a whole new life of it's own. Fused with a variety of different elements and styles, they seamlessly blend them all together. Making the job easy is a core troupe of a highly proficient band, with their skill coming across in flowing and emotive songs.

This is a group that truly finds themselves inspired by the ancient dusty tomes of the past, delving into the superstitious realm of their ancestors. Specifically targeting the era of inquisition, where fear and panic led to mass execution, their work is both their most epic and their most solemn. Engaging all the way throughout, the album is a perfect blend of harshness, melody, vision, and production. Rarely do albums cross so many boundaries and dichotomies, and do it as successfully as these guys do.

Overall, the symphonic elements of the album seamlessly blend with the metallic, creating a soaring harmony between the two sounds, ones that are all to often paired, but rarely truly successfully blended. In this release however, the dichotomy between the two is not ever present, and a true fusion of sound can be found. I found that the traditional sounds are only present just enough to truly bring a bigger than life phantasmal element to the sound of the album. Though the symphonic and folk elements do not find themselves as present as they might in other bands, in the end they ends up making sure they never find themselves overused as in some of the releases of their contemporaries.

However this album is clearly a metal album at it's heart, and no matter what other sounds come forth it never removes from the overall intensity of the release. The guitar tone throughout the album stands out as the perfect blend between the lo-fi crunch you'd expect from the genre, yet a high quality precision that is not predominantly found. The static and hiss found to commonly in most pagan black metal bands is completely absent, yet they still manage to through pure tone sculpture of the guitar sound itself manage to create a heavy and bombarding yet strangely resonant sound.

Guitar solos are present throughout the album, soaring in an almost melodic death metal like fashion, creating a lot more life and feeling to the record. Nothing is more boring than endless power chords. Though not overly technical, I would consider the guitar playing to be extremely expressive and emotive. And ultimately that is where this album has a lot of strength with keeping the music lively, dynamic, and engaging. The feeling of wandering through a confusing and haunted world truly conveys itself through well-crafted parts, which rarely find themselves becoming over welcome.

The vocals on the album though not the most dynamic, are skilled and coherent. If you're paying close attention to what is being said you can distinctively hear most if not all of the words without intently paying attention to the lyrics sheet. Clarity is something that is all to often overlooked in metal singers, however with this release he is spot on. My only real complaint with vocals is that they could have a bit more variety, and bit a bit louder at parts in certain songs. But other than that minor gripe, the album (and vocals throughout) are really quite solid.

Epic, powerful, and strangely melodic I would highly recommend this album to any fans of viking metal, melodic death metal (the more European kind), extreme gothic metal, pagan metal, melodic black metal, or really just anyone who wants to listen to some solid music inspired by Pagan European History.

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