Panphage - Jord 01It’s a pretty common cliché, but the first few seconds of Panphage’s Jord indeed tell the story of the album as a whole. In these tense opening moments, there is a palpable energy brewing behind a fleeting soundbite, perhaps the hushed roar of waves, followed by a wall of buzzing guitars and bellowing stomps. Ornaments originating in Swedish folk music and the raw vigor of an old school black metal clash and reveal themselves swiftly, while guttural growls launch the album on a path of continuous, neverending motion. And thus Fjällbrandt, the mastermind behind Sweden’s one-man black metal band Panphage, presents his third and final full-length record under the moniker, closing the project with his most accomplished work yet.

The promise of those introductory seconds of “Odalmarkerna” is fulfilled by about forty minutes of excellent folk-infused black metal. Panphage’s approach stays within the lines of a very clearly defined style, with blast beats and tremolos supporting a core of folk music, rather than the other way around. Despite the directness, speed, and energy in the music—Fjällbrandt’s vision of black metal is raw and often in full attack during the first six tracks—Jord never veers too far from being pleasingly arioso. “Odalmarkerna” is also marked by an impressive sense of timing and elegant shifts, from that initial buildup and release to the switch in melodies and tempo around the middle of the track. These tiny variations that appear in the midst of otherwise compositionally straightforward cuts are a trick that Fjällbrandt puts to good use throughout the record, switching gears and letting his ideas breathe for a while before slowly phasing them out of focus.

After “Odalmarkerna,” which is a standout song, things settle down in a set of unexceptional but otherwise very good songs. “Måtte dessa bygder brinna” mesmerizes with a galloping rhythm before turning into a scorcher and “Ygg (En visa om julen)” and “Den tyste åsen” offer a more traditional but sonically rich black metal approach. But in-between them stands another great tune, the monumentally epic “Skandinawjo.” A centerpiece and tour de force, it contains majestic-sounding touches of chanted and harmonized vocal lines and bits that belong in some ancient folk hymn. It’s the type of anthem that one can easily imagine as being played at a viking’s funeral. While musically speaking the closing “Osådda skall åkrarna växa (Outro)” stands out from the other pieces, slowed down and moody, it carries the same sense of grandeur and archaic importance and underlines it by employing sparse, dirge-like atmospheres and chants. A proper closer. When looking at Jord as a whole, the closest comparison that comes to mind is  Enslaved’s Eld which flirted with and married folk and black metal in a similar, albeit more restrained fashion.

Panphage - Jord 02The musicianship on the record is solid, especially taking into account that everything is done by one man. The guitars are crunchy and the tremolos are pleasingly sparkly while the rest of the soundscape—apart from the occasional synth-lines which seem crucial while upholding the folksy melodies—folds around them, serving as an imposing backdrop for their aggressive barrage. In general, Jord is competently, if not spectacularly played, the type of album where technicalities take a step back anyway and are supported by a clearly DIY production and mastering. At times plasticky and thin sounding, in turn, they nurture a sort of rough, early Scandinavian black metal feel. Lyrically speaking, Jord’s themes are as bombastic as its music. Envisioned as “an ode to heritage and to the death and rebirth of earth,” it deals with Scandinavian mythology and folklore. The lyrics are thus imbued with a sense of pride and conflict, but never belligerence.

Looking back at Fjällbrandt’s work as Panphage, it’s clear that he’s ending his twelve years of activity with a bang, with a culmination of the work he’s presented since 2005 through demos and two full-lengths. Jord is stylistically impressive and rather unique. It’s also Fjällbrandt’s most concise and focused, yet most epic record. While the year has just started, Panphage gifted us with a bittersweet farewell gift and with what will probably rank as one of the best folk black metal albums in 2018.


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Nordvis Produktion
Website: panphage.bandcamp.com
Releases Worldwide: January 12th, 2018

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  • AngryMetalBird

    The same photo than last time!!! It’s THE SAME PHOTO!!!!

    • Well if it ain’t broke….

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        I wouldn’t say it ain’t broke but he surely didn’t fix it.

  • The Akerstache

    Nothing is KVLT like Adidas.

  • Absolomb

    Gotta love that band photo.

    • Brutalist_Receptacle

      NO I DONT.

      • Absolomb

        Muuuuum, he’s shouting again!!

    • HeavyMetalHamster

      Balaclavas are soooo 2017….

  • Looks suspiciously like the Iron Walrus guys.

    • Let’s play another round of: fangs.. or bangs?

    • HeavyMetalHamster

      You owe me a beer.
      Canadian too…not that American swill….

  • Tenebrae

    Nice use of arioso.

  • Mattias Niklasson

    Only listened to this once so far. I think it’s gonna be a grower like Drengskapr. You hear how much good stuff there’s going on, but it takes a while for all of it to sink in with me.

  • hallowed

    Bonus track: I am the Walrus.

  • Brutalist_Receptacle

    PHVCK YEAH PANPHAGE

    • HeavyMetalHamster

      Is that a phat spoonerizing of Fan page?

  • The box pretty much beat me to it.

  • POWERLEMUR

    I am intrigued and will therefore pretend I didn’t see the band photo.

    Meanwhile, on my second listen of the new Heidevolk, which is a clue to what I think of it so far.

  • Matt slatz

    I wondered what happened to the machine after 8mm

  • HeavyMetalHamster

    Is he…..A WALRUS????!

    • Flämmer

      Some kind of heavy metal walrus, dare I say, iron perhaps?

  • Antorus

    my heart skipped a beat when i read “jord review” as “jorn”

    • Slimylimey

      I know, I got really worried for a second there too.

  • Nukenado

    That band photo has to be satire.

    • Nag Dammit

      Are those ironic trackie bottoms, or is he really just a 12 year old kid from Essex? Who knows, as he is wearing a balaclava, so maybe he is a terrorist? But no, the acoustic guitar would suggest he is a hippy.

      Jeez, it operates on so many levels I can’t cope.

  • foreverAlfon

    This reminds me loosely to one little album released last year which i enjoyed quite a bit despite its faults and that album is “The Sachem Tales” by Dzö-nga. It must be the folk element for sure, as they are not that similar (this one I find more aggresive and well prduced), but i find a similar kind of beauty in both of them. Happy I found this.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      That album had an awesome cover art… sadly I never could bring myself to like the music as much as the cover.

      • foreverAlfon

        the cover is fantastic. I enjoyed it at first but even more with repeated listens, one thing that blew me off bit at the beginning was the piano and the production, it sounded like two different songs playing at the same time, but getting past it lies a superbly composed album imo

  • Aguy

    The embedded track has a vibe that really reminds me of Moonsorrow.

    Problem is, once I realized that, I was like, why don’t I just listen to Moonsorrow? I mean yeah, they don’t sound the same, but suddenly this sounds so… inessential.

  • sir_c

    How more metal as fvck can you be than wearing 1989 LA Gear Lance Jackson’s, standing in a frostbitten forest with an acoustic guitar?

    Joking aside, the embedded track is quite enjoyable, the amateurish mastering does create a pleasant atmosphere.

    • Nag Dammit

      I didn’t even notice they were LA Gear – wonder if they had the crossed-over, multi-coloured laces??? I’m guessing pink and turquoise.

      • sir_c

        I’m not a connoisseur in that area, but it is what the silhouette reminded me of most, those 1989 pedal abominations

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    I expect no less than 75% of the comments to be about the (one-man) band picture.
    As for the logo, it looks like someone draw a map on Danzig’s skull.

    • Thatguy

      But the picture is immensely silly, isn’t is?

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        I am waiting for you to run it through your Band Photomer™

        • Thatguy

          And the result is ‘I’m kvlt as fuck and you can’t criticise my music because my “band photo” is ironic so maybe the music is ironic so suck that up you inferior bastards.’

          I don’t dislike the music at all, but the production is also ‘kvlt as fuck’ and I don’t really care to listen to it.

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            kvlt as fvck

          • Thatguy

            Sorry. You are correct.

  • TheKenWord2017

    Before reading this review I misread the title of the band as Phanpage. I laughed, then typed this comment. And now, I am still typing, and at this very moment, I have stopped commenting.

  • IndignantN00b

    Panphage is the best black metal project around right now. I didn’t even know this was coming out, so that’s awesome. But the news that he’s ending the project is not-awesome.

    And that band picture is still way better than every other picture of four dorks trying to look evil. Like his music it’s trve as fvck

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Trying to look evil and failing surely beats trying to look stupid and succeeding.

      • IndignantN00b

        Look you either understand that Immortal’s band pics are the greatest and most crushing band pics of all times or you’re confused. It’s OK. The picture is perfect. One day it will come to you

        As for the album I’m only one listen in but I’ll say that it’s probably going to be black metal of the year unless Obsequiae or Vindland have something planned. Obviously it’s better than all the “post” pablum and DSO-worshipping dross we’ve had to sift through these past few years. Panphage gets so much right it’s weird- even stuff I hate like black’n’roll riffs. The chants and cleans are magnificent, the riffs BRING IT, but the thing about Panphage is just the ferocious energy and passion he brings to every moment, even when it pulls back for a few seconds. Worthy of Odin, Quorthon, and Valfar. HAILS

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          Can’t wait for the t-shirt with the band picture to be released.

  • ElectricEye

    I am enjoying this album, but the thin production really does detract from the listening experience. The guitars and drums barely rise above the level of annoying static. And the cymbal sound is laughable. Still there is something compelling there.

    • I think the production suites the music well. It’s certainly buzzy, but still relatively clear. I like what I’m hearing, as I did with the last album.

  • TheCurlyMetalhead

    Intro riff and the main riff to the embedded track sounds like Where da hood by DMX. Holy shit my life changed now. I mustn’t be the only one that hears this!

    • PanzerFistDominatrix

      Hahaha, it actually does! Now, I viscerally hate DMX and most black metal so I prolly wouldn’t have thought about that connection myself – thanks!

  • Levly

    “one of the best folk black metal albums in 2018” is kind of damning it with faint praise lol, there won’t be so many record in this pretty niche genre right? You could have said one of the best black metal records of the year, it is really good :).

    • Roquentin

      2018 barely started. I’m just being cautious. :-)

  • Grymm

    I havr nothing poignant to add rxceot my brain keeps wanting to change the band name to “Fanpage”.

    • Tofu muncher

      Yep. Fanpage – Jørn review.

  • pfk505

    Love the band, love the band pic. He explains it a bit in his Bardo interview, a bit like a middle finger to black metal aesthetics. Anyway this rules as expected.

  • Wilhelm

    I wish that image wasn’t included because I actually like the song lol

  • Panagiotis Krokidas

    The embedded track is very promising.

    Always happy to start my day with interesting findings.

    PS The photo does it for me. Funny and black metal at the same time. What can you say?

  • Brjoro

    I’ve never heard of them (him) before but this is stellar. I’ve never understood the hype on Watain, and I won’t listen to Shining because the guy is such a repulsive human being so this was definitely the black metal I needed for 2018 so far! Thanks for turning me on to yet another band!

    • Selby

      Have similar feelings about Watain and Shining.

  • Warloghe

    Fantastic band. Absolutely brilliant!

  • SuzyC

    Right up my alley. Thanks for the tip.