Pagan Skull was formed in 2006, and released their third demo "Heretic Finland" in the last days of 2010. The group's expression is rooted in an oldschool-approach to street rock and metal, a bone-headed attitude, and a nationalistic spirit which clearly manifests itself through the visual side and the romanticized lyrics.
The songs are mostly rocking mid-pace three-chord anthems that rely on the appeal of raw power and catchiness, as well as the pleasingly rough soundscape. The two vocalists have rough and hoarse voices that really deliver the working class-attitude, and deliver the lyrics with authentic emotion. The guitars deliver an occasional short solo and other tasty bits to make the songs further interesting and less primitive, and some clean vocals are employed as well.
The record has a demo-like, rough and even primitive soundscape, but the drums still sound powerful and the guitar and bass have deep and raw enough sounds to fill the soundscape. The shouted vocals are a bit too on top of the songs and the guitars aren't tuned to perfection, but regarding the group's overall approach and this release being a demo, these things rather make "Heretic Finland" more authentic than lower its appeal. Still, I recommend that the group rehearses more and records their following release with more time and effort if they really want to make an impact. They could also ponder if they really want to keep using english lyrics, since the vocalists' pronounciation is pretty fumbly - although it, too, makes the record sound pleasingly down-to-earth. Still, the pronounciation damages the vocal melodies, which is of course a shame.
As usual with this kind of music, the songs rely a lot on their melodies. The riffs are mostly easy to follow and sound interesting enough, and the bass riffs are surprisingly pleasing as well. The vocals serve as the main providers of melodies, and the two voices deliver them in a pleasingly manly way. The songs just sound a tad too even, partly due to the soundscape as well as the fumbly vocal delivery; they have a lot of attitude and emotion as well as pleasing melodies, but the recording sounds too hasty. The songs would need more contrast and a bit more clarity to really leave a mark, and to make the listener spin this record over and over.
The songs are good, but they could've been recorded better. I see no reason why Pagan Skull wouldn't nail their style and approach on their next record, if they give more attention to the recorded outcome - and a less primitive visual side wouldn't hurt either. Based on the bonus song "Pagan Witch" the group is clearly going forward, and I hope this trend will continue. Extra credit has to be awarded for the stylish ending tune "Ikävyys," which is a campfire-style acoustic song.