Thursday, January 15, 2009

To PaganFest or Not to PaganFest...That is the Question

I loved PaganFest 2008. Afterwards, I grabbed albums from the three bands I didn't know and developed a level of affection for the recordings that made me wish I knew the songs before the show. When Rock the Nation announced PaganFest 2009, I decided to make good on the lessons of the past and checked out the bands before the show.

Doing so might have been a mistake, because now I'm not sure I want to go.

Here are my thoughts on this year's lineup:
  • Korpiklaani: Tales Along This Road was singularly underwhelming. Singing about booze is cool; sounding like a drunk bar band while you do it is not. Simply put, these guys could take a few lessons in that area - and a few others, like how to write a proper melody - from Turisas.
  • Eluveitie: Slania was one of my 2008 albums of the year and Eluveitie rocked my world at PaganFest 2008. If I go to this year's edition, it will be primarily to see these guys again.
  • Primodial: I think The Gathering Wilderness was meant to sound like music communing with wild nature: lots of slow moving lines that owed a lot to drones. The problem was, they never really went anywhere, never conjured up any strong images, and were sharing time with such an uninspiring vocalist that the whole project was just boring.
  • Moonsorrow: I've already sung Verisäkeet's praises, but suffice it to say that if Primordial are a group of hacks, Moonsorrow are the real deal. I've never wanted to run away and live in a hut in the Scandinavian wilderness more in my life.
  • Blackguard: Another Round (their last release as Profugus Mortis) is ok, but it's a bit of a mish-mash of stereotypes: a dash of folk metal here, one of Jordan Ruddess's keyboard sounds there, stir it all up and try to ignore the lack of depth. After Moonsorrow, these guys just don't seem to stand up.
  • Swashbuckle: All I've heard so far is "drunk pirate metal from New Jersey." I'm a little scared to listen to anything, because I'm torn: I either like the concept in the same way I like, say, Gama Bomb and I don't want them to suck, or I absolutely hate the concept and don't care one way or another. It's tough being a music fan sometimes.

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