During the first half of the nineties, I did know a Polish band with the name Pagan Temple. I had not heard of them anymore since then, and investigation turned out to define their dissolution in 1996 after just over three years of existence. Anyway, when my dearest brother-in-pure-law K. did send me the album The Warriors Of Black Circles by a Polish band called Pagan Temple, I couldn’t imagine that it would deal with the very same band. Well, actually, it is a moniker quite attractive, I guess, for projects ‘with a message’, so why not? But then it turned out to be a release by, indeed, the one I knew. But I am sort of confused, and let me explain you why. At the one hand, I was truly thrilled by noticing that this album compiled the stuff recorded more than two decades ago. I might still have a tape, somewhere, lost in a box, but where… So, imagine my enthusiasm on this compilating release. Then again, I hoped it was meant like a teaser for an upcoming full length, as if the band, in its original line-up (both Lord Abraxas and Macabre were quite active, and notorious, within the (Polish) scene during that era) or with new members – whatever – would have resurrected. Unfortunately, I can’t figure it out (I must ask K., I guess, to find out). But I do not think any of both members have the intention to reform Pagan Temple.
But hey, that’s not so extremely important right here, right now, for this is a review on that compilation. The Warriors Of Black Circles compiles all stuff recorded in the studio in between 1993 and 1995. It comes on compact disc in an edition of 666 copies (the number gives you a hint, a clue, does it not, on what to expect) in a partnership of three notorious labels from Poland, being Eastside (which I do follow for almost two decades), Witches Sabbath Records (I am not trusted with them that intensively, but I am getting quite excited seen their impressing roster), and of course, mighty Lower Silesian Stronghold, run by K.
The three first tracks are taken from the demo-tape …And The Angels Weep, independently released at the end of 1993. An interesting fact is that this contribution consists of three tracks, while the original cassette came with two tracks only. The band didn’t want to add a third one, the title track, because of discontentment, but this compilation comes with that title track included – which is a great thing, I think. This first demonstrational recording was (is) an expression of the purest essence of Old School Black Metal, balancing in between primitive and technical, in between melodic and harsh, in between raw and even rawer. In the vein of Bathory, Darkthrone, Burzum and the likes, Pagan Temple were trying to spread a very same message of occultism, misanthropy and blasphemy, focusing on the essence of Black Metal’s Old School heresy. The very same goes for the sound quality, which totally sucks. But hey, it makes me happy, for this production defines the morbid and hateful character of the trend! Fuck decency!
Then comes Fullmoon, Pagan Temple’s second demo from Autumn 1995. This one started with an intro that sort of typified many recordings back then: a haunting synth-piece, just expressing suffocation and discomfort, yet beautiful at the same time. About the very same goes for the untitled outro, which is rather gloomy and spooky, haunting and ominous, and so characteristic for the international scene from the late Eighties and early Nineties. Nice… The Black Metal tracks came with a sound quality comparable to the first demo, being under-produced, chaotic, badly mixed and noisy, yet oh so honest and pure. In comparison to the former demo, Fullmoon did (and still does) sound more mature. It still expresses the malignancy and evilness from the past, but composition-wise the band made quite some progression. Still the nihilistic and minimal ugliness prevails, but with more grandeur and flexibility. Due to experience, the craftsmanship of the members did grow intensively.
The Warriors Of Black Circles ends with a previously unreleased (at least, I think so) recording, with three instrumentally rehearsed tracks from 1992. These compositions did not make it to the demos, but it was the band’s first expression of Scandinavian-influenced Old Style Black Metal. These jam sessions are fully energetically performed, and the lack of vocals does not bother at all. even without these voices / screams / grunts / whatever, these three instrumentals breathe the essence of the roots of all aural evil and grimness. So nice, oh so nice…
The jewel case compact disc comes with a twenty-page booklet, including many pictures from that era (the members, of course) and copies of flyers (back then, the digital age had not conquered our tribes yet; demos were recorded in self-made home studios on tape, covers were printed on an old Xerox-machine, and the distribution was via (air) mail, send to people’s letter boxes, with hand-cut flyers accompanying as distribution and promotion material – ah, I’m getting melancholic, but it was not that bad at all… - Ivan). Fine too is the addition of the lyrics (in English).