Pagandom – ‘Hurt As A Shadow’

Thrash, from Gothenburg, Sweden, Pagandom formed in 1987. Disbanding in 1996, after producing a demo under the name ‘Kung’, they reunited for the Gothenburg Sound Festival 2014 and have stayed together and been creating new music since. This, their current album, launched on 28/10/16, via Gain/Sony, is their 6th production. Previous releases include ‘Battery/Metal Militia’, a tribute to Metallica. Past guitarists include Anders Bjorler, formerly of At The Gates, The Haunted and Liers In Wait.

Forever – Fucking Hell, that just freaked me right out. Clever use of silence, for the initial few moments, before it suddenly bursts into life and wakes you the fuck up. Very modern sound to this, in a vocal sense. Perfect festival fayre. Lyrically and stylistically comparable to Jane’s Addiction, only much heavier and louder. Sudden ending, indicating fandom of Metallica’s stop-start school of metal.

An Entity, A Ghost – Crunchy start to this, rapid pace, with a sombre lyrical undertone. Chasing its own tail, in an insane, playful performance, evoking much visual imagery of fairground rides and stage antics, combined. Fairly short, but creates a clear impression of showmanship as their specific strength.

Hurt As A Shadow – Straight up, no-nonsense riffage introing this, followed by basic, but believable vocals, delivered with obvious feeling. Steady rhythm, with a comfortable, easy flow. Slight chugging riffs at the close; confident performance. Not much meat on this, for a title track, but it’s still adequate and well conveyed.

Behind The Words – Striking intro, definitely more power behind this. Booming out the power sounds, but it’s a tad mundane and leaves me cold. There’s definitely strength there in the delivery, but for me, it’s just missing that something.

Catapults & Trapdoors – Opening with a very apt aural scene, providing an easy visual glimpse into the story the title reveals and now, throwing in clearer passion, enthusiasm and some exciting riffage, it’s a big improvement, with much more promise.

Monochrome Vision – Great riff intro, unusually played, like a lightning bolt and joined by a clearly felt drum section, with much heaviness and sincerity injected into it. Growing in vocal strength and power, this track’s vastly more energised and it shows.

Breather – Lovely acoustic riff opening and it’s one which actually enters your heart, in an almost physical sense. Now I’m feeling it). As the beautifully smooth, mellow riffs follow, with the track continuing with the acoustic flow, it soon becomes clear that it’s a powerful instrumental, deeply felt and experienced. One word. Beautiful. Stand-out track, for sure.

Not Of Diamonds – Banging right back into life and getting right up in your face, here’s where the real, heavy energy appears. Truly great melody to this, well combined with the raw, aggressive vocals, redolent of punk, new metal and rap metal together and this is where the album really comes to life. Brilliant performance, keenly expressed.

Bridges Burn – Another intense intro, filled with obvious raw passion, I have to admit it’s growing on me; improving all the time. Fabulous drum rolls, ecstatically delivered lyrics and tasty, fiery, enthused riffs. Brief, but brilliant.

Terminal Narcissist – Again, this pounds into life, with raging energy and impressively performed profound emotion. What’s happening now? Something I didn’t expect at all. I’m joining in with the lyrics! Perhaps it’s because I relate, but you know what it really means. It’s got me by the …….. you know what and you can imagine the rest. That says it all. In fact, I recommend this track, as effective therapy, for anyone whose life has, at any point, been blighted by a terminal narcissist. That’s probably the biggest compliment I can pay it. Any song that touches anyone that deeply has to have something going for it.

No Hope To Be Lost – Oh and the crashing leaden metal continues. This vocal’s more like those early on in the album, but there’s definitely much more emotional intent here. Noticeably shorter track, but no less powerful, for that.

Flooded City – Ending on the same, insistent intensity, proving their ability to maintain momentum, this is proof of far greater volume of material, in the literal sense, solidly cemented by the wave, washing, so powerfully, over the song, at the end. They really did pour everything they had into this, the final track, culminating in a successful crescendo, in closing.

Overall – Here’s a perfect example of how to salvage an initially flailing album, but not just salvage it – grab it by the balls and shake it hard, till it delivers everything it’s got and more. Though unsure at first, this has well and truly redeemed itself. Well worth a full listen, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by just how much buried treasure Pagandom have inside them and how skilfully they bring it to the surface, with such masterful timing. Bands deserve their chance to shine and so much the better when they exceed your expectations and change your entire outlook. Gleaming treasure lies within.

7/10 *******

For fans of NWOHM, new metal, rap metal, punk and protest rock and modern takes on European metal and pop rock/metal. (Linkin Park and Skindred fans, in particular).


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