Panphage is a one-man black metal project based in Sweden. I have heard much about Panphage, and to me he strikes as one of those artists that consistently releases well-received albums. I’ll admit, I have listened to very little of Panphage, but what I heard was quite good. Hearing that ‘Jord’ is his last album with this project, I just had to listen. ‘Jord’ is an incredibly dense listen. Folk-tinged black metal that is ingrained with an earthen essence of sorts. All sorts of elemental energy is thrown at you – the roaring of the wind, the bellowing of the ever-shifting earth, the rage of fire and the unrelenting tide of the sea.
As I mentioned before, ‘Jord’ is through and through a black metal album with some elements of folk music. This is very much a pagan/heathen record without a doubt. There is a certain majesty to be found in the album’s sound. It soars into the highest highs while still delivering a raw punch in the guts. While there are folk sounds present here, I’d say it’s only 10% present. The rest is roaring black metal that is reminiscent of the good ol’ days of Bathory. I feel like black metal has lost much of its primal essence and energy. A lot of bands these days tend to fall into the atmospheric/blackgaze category, which is fine; but we lose what made black metal so appealing. Panphage brings it back with ferocity.
Odalmarkerna starts us off. It is perhaps the most stand-out track on the album. It’s a rather melodic affair that starts off as a mid-tempo build-up into the destructive conclusion to the track. The vocals on the second half of Odalmarkerna feel like the Earth is ripping apart and bellowing out volcanic rage. Unbridled rage really makes this an intense experience to behold. The drums really shine here, played with finesse and aggression. The melody between the different guitars adds a layer of complexity to this otherwise chaotic affair.
Måtte Dessa Bygder Brinna is a track with a steady drum gallop and guitars that dazzle the senses and hypnotize the listener. It is a good, but mostly unremarkable track. The second half actually turns into quite a ripper. What you’ll find on this album is that a lot of the tracks are quite repetitive in nature, but it doesn’t really make the album lose its lustre.
Ygg (En Visa Om Julen) is another track that has somewhat of a build-up before unleashing a mother-lode of furious energy onto the listener. The caveman grunting present here actually adds a lot of energy to the track. Repetitious drum patterns and melodic guitars intertwined with each other make this quite a dense listen. When you look back, there’ll be something you missed that’ll make you appreciate the technicality and musicianship shown here.
Skadinawjo has a soft intro before slapping you in the face with pagan fury. It sounds like something straight out of a Viking funeral. An elegy for a great warrior that passed gloriously on the fields of battle, and has passed onto the great mead halls of Valhalla. A track that can make you paint images like this is a great indicator that much thought was put into its creative process.
Skadinawjo segues into Den Tyste Åsen (rather clumsily, mind you) a track very similar to Ygg. It’s very much the same of what you would find in that track. Nothing super impressive here but nothing horrible either.
Som Man Sår Får Man Skörda also offers nothing new to the table here in terms of difference. Just rough, balls to the wall black metal that you can bang your head to proudly.
The outro Osådda Skall Åkrarna Växa is actually a rather grim sounding song. It’s slow, has a dirty, grimy guitar sound and the chanting gives it a certain doom-like mood. It really gives a sense of finality to the record and to the project. It’s like an ode or an elegy to itself.
This may be the last album Panphage will put out, but I can say that they went out with quite a bang. This is an utterly ferocious record that’ll keep you coming back. While it hasn’t changed the landscape or reinvented the wheel, it’s a solid slab of primal pagan black metal with beautiful musicianship and near-perfect instrumentation.
I salute and thank you for the music you have given us, Panphage. Hail!
Get your copy of ‘Jord’ here.