Faun – Pagan (2022) – Review

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It’s a pity, in a geeky kind of way. Faun now is a different animal than it was once Von den Elben hit the fan crowd. 2013 was a time of change, a refreshing reminder that Medieval Folk can be fun and games without the burden of having to recreate history. True, some of that fare was a tad light-minded, but the RMR crew here did enjoy that new refreshing wind blowing down from the German heartland. By the time Midgard released, a motley selection of style directions appeared. A somewhat uneasy mix of old-time ethereal tracks and the lighter version we got accustomed to.

Now, Pagan hit the market a few months ago, complete with newcomer Adaya1) who replaced Fiona Rüggeberg. Interestingly, this new piece now releases on their vanity label Pagan Folk Records but sells their wares over the Napalm webshop. Meaning, the band didn’t exactly cut ties with one of the most commercially minded labels out there. And it’s not the first band to do this even if the latter’s service always errs on the expensive side. Just sayin’.

So, after learning that they kind of went with their own label, we started looking for that new and refreshing look and feel. And sure enough, Faun started to flood all channels with all sorts of often outstanding videos with a pagan flavor, some of which made it onto the RMR clip pipe. Those ranged from typical Faun comfort fare like Halloween to truly stellar ideas. Like Gwydion – for instance – which shines with the arrival of Eluveitie for the harsher parts of the song. In truth, I quietly wondered for some time already how long it would take them to get Chrigel Glanzmann involved. And – at the same time – I am equally glad they didn’t latch on with the likes of Heilung. That would have killed that proverbial beast right there.

Yet, Pagan doesn’t shy away from promoting guest voices from the Dark and Nordic Folk realms, either. Notably, Lindy-Fay Hella of Wardruna famously appears on the record’s chief incantation Galdra. A pretty well-written track that also garnered yet another clip shown below. So, in a sense, pretty much half of the record was already known, well before the record was scheduled to release. And that can be a problem, there is such a thing as clip overkill. In other words, with all those different filet pieces already known, will there be further pearls, or was that pretty much it?

And that’s exactly the issue with Pagan. The record clocks at a little over an hour, and that’s a big ask. In other words, by track numba 6 some sensory overload may set in already. And there are a whopping fifteen to go. You’ll get a ton of truly excellent material. Yet again, on the 2nd half of the record, filler material starts to creep in. Furthermore, whilst much better managed than on Midgard, there’s this uneasy relationship between ‘modern’ material and the older-style esoteric tunes. So, a pretty severe culling of the tracklist would have sent this record to absolutely stellar heights. But – instead – the band insisted on that balancing act to please both sides of their fan crowd.

So, unfortunately, Pagan is – yet again – a mixed bag of goodies. You,ll find truly stellar material on that record. But then the band brutally kills that positive energy by including fillers like Liam, Caer, or – again – the totally boring Lord Randal. In other words, they lost that cool momentum that really grips you tightly for the first four or five tracks. And – in turn – Faun watered it down with whatever sounded juicy enough on their extended heap of still unsung tracks.

But that will by no means turn this record into a vile pile of meaningless garbage. Pagan contains some of the best material this band yet produced. And they did this by injecting some of the older no-nonsense vibes back into their tune. In turn, all those ‘cheap shots’ from the more popular realms of the Medieval Folk scene disappeared from view. And that really is a good thing, come to think of it.

Seriously improved Pagan Folk from one of Germany’s major and most skilled folk bands? Quite so. Keep ’em coming, folks.

Record Rating: 7/10 | Label: Pagan Folk Records | Web: Official Band Site
Release Date: 22 April 2022


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