When it comes to music, there are many people who have an appetite for artists who are left of center but not extremely left of center. There are some hip-hop heads who seriously appreciate Jay-Z and Kanye West but don't care for ultra-violent gangsta rap; there are some jazz enthusiasts who enjoy trumpeter Dave Douglas' brand of avant-garde jazz but won't listen to an atonal firebrand like saxophonist Charles Gayle. And in the metal world, there are headbangers who appreciate some death metal and black metal but don't get into the really vicious and unforgiving bands; Pagan Fire was assembled with that type of headbanger in mind. Emphasizing symphonic black metal, melodic death metal and folk-metal, this compilation will appeal to power metal, thrash metal and progressive metal fans who like their extreme metal on the melodic, hooky side -- in other words, Queensrÿche, Iron Maiden, Metallica, and Megadeth fans who will get into At the Gates, In Flames or Dimmu Borgir but wouldn't get into Cannibal Corpse or Carcass on the death metal side or Gorgoroth or Marduk on the black metal side. The tunes on this 77-minute CD are generally melodic and hooky, and that is true of Finntroll's "Nedgång," Bal-Sagoth's "Shackled to the Trilithon of Kutulu," and Wintersun's "Winter Madness" as well as Moonsorrow's "Kylän Päässä," Turisas' "Battle Metal," and Falkenbach's "Laeknishendr." Pagan Fire is full of black metal's sinister rasp vocals and death metal's guttural Cookie Monster growling, and it is also full of rich melodies and harmonies. Pagan Fire is about forcefulness and aggression -- no one will mistake it for a Celine Dion album -- but it also about musicality, intricacy, and nuance. Fans of symphonic black metal, melodic death metal and folk-metal can't go wrong with this excellent compilation.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2