by Mike Delano
Pagan/Folk metal is often incredibly goofy, what with the dress-up and face paint and violins and accordions and trolls. One would have to assume that access to its bands is relatively easy due to its limited popularity in the U.S., and on top of that, tack on some racist bonus points to the fact that you’re not likely to see a non-white person on stage or in the crowd, and it adds up to a perfect storm for intrepid metal ‘zine guy/film auteur Bill Zebub. He approaches the subject the way you would expect: An endless stream of backstage/on-the-bus interview snippets intercut with handheld-in-the-front-row live footage. Pagan Metal: A Documentary is poorly organized and doesn’t seem to have any ambition outside of being a footage dump, but as a snapshot of a sampling of bands in the genre, it works fine. The bands interviewed (Turisas, Korpiklaani, TYR, Finntroll, Leaves Eyes, and others) are universally nice, even as Zebub drags the questioning into his predictable banality (cock talk, lame jokes), and the live performances can be impressive (Primordial). As a documentary, it’s lazy (Zebub calls it “raw”), but if you’re curious and willing to do your own editing, there’s some worthwhile stuff here to be found.