Pagan Forest has two points to take, the first one is a band born in the 90s, specifically in 1995, but this first full-length "Bogu" was released at the beginning of 2021 after 26 years of existence. This is weird in a European band because the economic and instrument resources were always at greater access during the 90s. I only thought that this idea of ​​delay and problems to launch the first production only happened in Latin America, by the economy in the 80s and 90s. Then, as a second point, is that the band does Pagan Black Metal?... where the term pagan. I never understood this matter into the extreme music, because even though the band wants to have that inclination, the music is completely folkloric from their ancestors, and that cannot be made pagan as music, but rather as an ideology, which is something very different. Because on a musical level, the various folk instruments that the band uses combine a guitar and sharp guturation like all the Black Metal bands of the 90s and even this dirty way in many parts and quite folklore in their scales with Finnish influence.


DARGEDIK: Welcome Artur to Dargedik webzine pages, it’s a great pleasure to talk with you about Pagan Forest and your first album “Bogu”. Tell me, why did you delay 26 years to release your first Full-length? And why did you decide to do it during this pandemic? Perhaps this pandemic helps with more ideas. 

PAGAN FOREST: Welcome. Thank you for the opportunity to tell you about "Bogu" in your zine. This album is the work of the last 4 years. The pandemic happened along the way as if. All the songs on the album are from the band's last 15 years, There was a suspension of Pagan Forest operation between 2006-2016. So the team has been really active for 15-16 years. 

DARGEDIK: Relating the last question. For a second full-length, will Pagan Forest take more time to see it done? And will it have the same pagan concept as other cultures in the world? Or will be the same? 

PAGAN FOREST: We make Slavic music because our culture, nature, history fills us and that translates into music. I think our album “Bogu” is very Slavic and it's ours. As for other cultures, it is difficult, to be honest in composing in an unknown tradition. Of course, it's probably possible, but we prefer to be honest about what we do and how we feel about art, music, and lyrics. 

DARGEDIK: "Bogu" has the cover made by Kuba Sokólski. Where the main scene is a coven. On what legend or myth were you based to make this witches' Sabbath? And do you have anything to do with Goethe's "Faust" (1790)? or maybe the movie "The Witch" (2015)? 

PAGAN FOREST: The album cover refers directly to the song "Czarny Bóg". Our Slavic God Weles is one of the few chthonic deities. It is the Lord of the afterlife who sits on the throne in the roots of the Space Tree, having the power to transform into a Viper, using magic and caring for the souls of the dead traveling through Navia. The cover of Weles's performance and the ritual of invoicing during the feast of the Night of the Kupala which is celebrated June 21-22 in Slavic tradition. 

DARGEDIK: All the lyrics in this "Bogu" are related to poems by artists such as Tadeusz Miciński, Kazimiera "Iłła" Iłłakowiczówna, Ryszard Danęcki, Janka Kupała (Iwan Łucewicz) o Szakalis. Why did you decide to link many poems of them with a pagan idea of Pagan Forest? And could we be talking about an esoteric concept with "Bogu"? Coz the word in English means God. 

PAGAN FOREST: The concept of "Bogu" was born in my head years ago. The whole album is such a mystical tribute to the forces of nature, to the Slavic and pagan traditions in general. The texts are written by authors who have strongly identified themselves with Slavic tradition, history, and religion. The whole concept of the album is very consistent. Mystical chants are performed by the Group "Drewno" which cultivates the traditions of singing "white singing". This type of singing was cultivated long before the Christian people introduced their religion into Slavic areas. I called the album "Bogu" (“To God”) because it is a tribute to the Slavic Gods who embody our tradition, our temperament, and the forces of nature. 

DARGEDIK: Where did the idea come from to do a concept album focused on pre-Christian cultures? and why do you make an album influenced by folk rhythms or rituals? Coz I was listening to the compilation "Pure Harmony of the Night / Pośród złowieszczej ciszy" (2005) and you were more inclined to another style of Black Metal. 

PAGAN FOREST: From the very beginning of Pagan Forest you can hear some Slavic and folk influences. It was a natural process of musical development. Of course, 20 or 25 years ago (when we recorded songs for compilations "Pure Harmony of the Night / Pośród złowieszczej ciszy") I was not aware and properly prepared to compose at the Slavic musical scales and with the folk musicians. There was also no such live pagan scene in Poland, there were no such groups as "Drewno", and there was no Slavic consciousness as it is at the moment. We are really one of several bands that is precursors in Poland in creating such art. 

DARGEDIK: Many times, when I talk to partners and metalheads from many areas in Metal. The issue of setting up a Pagan Metal band is more an ideological term than a musical one. Why is it important for the band to have this Pagan Metal label concept? and why not Folk Black Metal? 

PAGAN FOREST: For me, paganism is in opposition to Christianity or a foreign religion that prevails and is not associated with a true tradition. You could also call it folk metal or roots metal or black roots metal or black metal. I'm not offended by that. 

DARGEDIK: If we talk about the songs of this "Bogu" has and we try to connect with the theme of rituals and ceremonial acts. Can these songs be used as part of rituals to the old knowledge of the earth? And, could it be said that ideology subjects are over the musical concept? 

PAGAN FOREST: Some of the passages of “Bogu” we used are authentic Old Slavic songs made using the traditional technique of "white singing". It is known that this type of singing accompanied Slavic rites. In the calendar of nature “white singing” was present in every element important to man: birth, courtship, weddings, funerals, during work, rest, feasting. “White singing” was present in every element important for nature: spring, solstice time, equinox, harvest, wintertime. He was present in spiritual elements: worshipping the gods of yield, calling spring, recalling rain, mowing, chewing grain, during winter. Singing invited to the care of the protection gods, and reprimanded evil spirits. He was a thread connecting not only the singers but entire groups of people. Composing based on a true tradition in both music and texts makes it all consistent and fulfills itself. 

DARGEDIK: Relating concepts. The term pagan was born many years ago when Christianity has invaded Rome and then it became the first religion of that empire with the help of Constantine. But initially, it was derogatory to use foreign religions in the country. And with that, Christianity entered as a foreign religion. What is your approach to paganism in these years where Black Metal began to have more attachment to this concept? And do you think it is a cliche concept within Metal? 

PAGAN FOREST: I identify with the concept of paganism as opposed to Christianity. In general, in my opinion, Christianity is a weak religion because the system it creates is in opposition to the man. Hence the perversions and pathologies that this system creates. All "pagan" traditions are natural, often based on the forces of nature and natural laws. Therefore, they are human-friendly. Satanism is in opposition to Christianity, and on this foundation, black metal was created in a lyrical layer. I think that this "anti-Christian" Satanism, however, became unconvincing because it was based on evil. In fact, I believe that the idea of cultivating evil is a mistake, as is the idea of cultivating good. In normal reality, these ideas mix. There is no 100% evil or 100% good. There are laws of nature, the law of cause and effect. For me, a much more honest black metal is one based on pagan ideas than the one directly referring to "evil". 

DARGEDIK: Now we’ll speak about other matters into the metal scene. As for how an underground band and a mainstream band should be considered, there are patterns where more vinyl or cassette productions stick to this concept, and the CD according to some fans only expands the collections. What do you think are the factors for fans to stick with this concept of underground metal? 

PAGAN FOREST: I'm a vinyl collector. I think they have a soul. I also have a lot of cassettes with metal music and at least a CD. CD destroyed a little quintessence of metal or as vivid and organic sound as possible. By CD, this idea of organic sound has fallen. I can't answer your question about what's true for the underground metal. I think that just music with the idea and the right sound and performance will always defend itself. 

DARGEDIK: Another detail is about the listening methods of the fans because this new generation prefers to listen to a song or two on digital platforms. What do you think about the albums doesn’t having the same impact compared to the 80s and 90s? And what are your solutions to improve the listening of all the songs on the albums? 

PAGAN FOREST: We're probably not going to change that anymore. Internet and accessibility have their pros and cons. On the one hand, we probably wouldn't have reached your zine without the Internet. Listeners have a chance to meet us. On the other hand, over-availability loses the ritual of waiting for music and its availability increases competition between bands. Listeners no longer create subcultures, they no longer identify with their favorite bands. It's all because of accessibility. Unfortunately, times have changed. We as artists need to be all the more honest about what we do and, above all, not count on royalties and do it with passion and look for sponsors (lol). 

DARGEDIK: We are very close to end this interview. Today, how do you see the situation of the bands in the face of this new pandemic, how is this pandemic affecting musicians, bands, and the staff or crew behind the curtain? Because these days most of the bands live with shows or gigs in different parts of the world. 

PAGAN FOREST: For artists who play and live from it, it's a huge blow. There should be forms of support for them from the authorities as for other industries. After the pandemic, everything will slowly return to normal. Maybe it will also be the case that listeners will be more respectful of artists and will listen to their CD in full. 

DARGEDIK: Well Artur, the sad time arrived at this interview, I hope you enjoy this one as I did, and thank you very much for your time. Take care during this pandemic situation and our best wishes from this part of the world. Any last words for your new fans in Latin America and Dargedik readers? 

PAGAN FOREST: Thank you very much for your support. I invite all listeners to listen to "BOGU". If you want to know our culture and tradition and still in the black metal packaging, you are cordially invited. Thank you very much Javier too. 

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