It’s a well-worn horror cliché that no matter how far or how fast you run, the hulking, machete-wielding murderer behind you will somehow always manage to catch up with you – even while trudging along at a much slower clip. This pretty much sums up Paganus, an extreme-doom act hailing from Finland who’ve crafted an experience that feels relentless despite its punishingly slow pace.

Paganus is also surprisingly engaging, largely due to the rasped, blackish vocals. The four songs here – all around ten minutes long or more – feel like epic narrative poems, as if recited by the Homer of the trollish world. Or, if I can make another film reference, it’s like the extreme-doom equivalent of the voiceover from the beginning of Conan the Barbarian, but set to a crushing, ragged score. A varied drum performance also elevates this above your usual lumbering monotony, adding to the narrative with its own voice and flourishes, and becoming a character unto itself.

Paganus also smartly lets additional elements burble to the surface periodically – a mournful acoustic interlude during “Blood Soaked Boots,” or a crackling, slow-motion eruption of tectonic rumbling and space-warp electronics at the core of “Skullsplitter.” Maybe it’s the result of the album’s hypnotic effect (or just ‘cause it’s late and I’m still at work and totally burned out), but the latter instantly conjured up the image of a prehistoric tribe, high on psychedelic mushrooms and staring agog at a volcanic explosion against the night sky. (I am dead sober as I write this, I promise you). “Skullsplitter” then progresses to a long call-and-response chant (“My boots are soaked in blood… my blood!”) between two different personas, one rasped and one a deeper, Neurosis-like bellow, ending the track on an almost ritualistic note. Pagan, even.

This sort of doom is usually not my thing, unless I just want to be bludgeoned into deep reverie or concentration, but Paganus has grown on me quite a bit. Definitely recommended to fans of the genre, or just for anyone who’s curious about the audio equivalent of being slowly fisted by Hellboy.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jordan Itkowitz
June 2nd, 2008


  1. Commented by: axiom

    Sounds pretty awesome, except for the Hellboy comparison. Yikes!!!

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