Onto a scene that has been flooded with increasingly lukewarm variations on metalcore over the past few years has stepped Pagan, a band whose real individuality has made their embrace by the music media over the last year or so one that is somewhat deserved.
Pre-saged by a string of singles, Black Wash has become one of the most anticipated Australian releases of this year, and Pagan do not disappoint.
Black Wash delivers a solid beating with a merciless punk-flavoured metal attack, driven by the huge dirty bass groove supplied by Dan Bonnici and the clamouring drums of Matt Marusco whose deceptively simple beats keep things at fever pitch, building a platform that’s something like Kvelertak crossed with Black Flag. On top of this, Xavier Santilli throws down a staunch array of catchy riffs that embody punk, groove rock, metal and hardcore, changing it up with every new track. The final element that really makes Pagan a breed apart is Nikki Brumen’s wildly untamed vocal style, evoking the anguish, rage, despair and frustration of this journey into the Church of Black Wash.
Using the inescapable claustrophobia of a religious cult as an ongoing metaphor for the bitterness, alienation and entrapment associated with toxic relationships, Black Wash is a powerful and inventive slab of heavy volume. Santilli’s hook-ridden rifferama enlivens tracks like “Holy Water” and groovefest rocker “Death Before Disco”; “Blood Moon” is a full-on metal assault with some melodic death metal riffs and black metal tremolo picking to die for. Bonnici drops in some melodic backing vocals in the Motorhead-style rocker “The Greatest Love Songs” as Brumen’s caustic, abrasive voice soars and dives among the roar and incredible groove of the band. Refused-esque rave up “Imitate Me” is the complete showcase of Brumen’s power as she unleashes her full arsenal of banshee shrieks, gutteral death growls, howling and a fleeting moment of almost sweet singing tone.
For all the focus on the so-called “blackened” aspects of their sound, in reality Pagan is at its core simply a ferocious rock n roll band with similarities to the likes of the previously-mentioned Kvelertak or late 90s Entombed if they threw in disco beats and were fronted by a hell-demon, and Black Wash is extraordinary.
- Il Malocchio si Apre
- Death Before Disco
- Imitate Me
- Holy Water
- Blood Moon
- Year of the Dog
- The Greatest Love Songs
- Wine and Lace
- Fluorescent Snakes
- Il Malocchio si Chiude