Lord of Pagathorn is a band with a fairly interesting history, having disbanded in the mid-90s after the release of its first demo The Chaos Spirit Among US (1994), and returned for another some 16 years later. As they were formed around 1992, history might have placed them among the forefront of the Finnish black metal scene, if the material here is any indicator, but they never won themselves the visibility. That said, Msilihporcen is strong enough that it could endear their music to an entirely new audience of black metal fan this second time around. The chord progressions are well written, the conceptual narrative seems consistent, the production is sound, and the lyrics are interesting enough that I felt captivated even without knowing how the whole story goes (this is essentially the first chunk of a planned album, being used for promotional purposes). And no, Msihiliporcen is not a concept about hallucinatory mushrooms from Central America...you're reading it backwards!
Of the six cuts on this demo, three are basically part of the story's narrative and meant to serve alongside the greater work. The band uses whispered rasps, somnolent acoustics and the nature samples of birds, winds and such to create an aura of overcast skies, flickering candles and other mood settings through the "Intro", "Interlude" and "Outro". A flimsy but effective dressing, yet Lord of Pagathorn need no tricks up their sleeves, because their metal is quite formidable on its own. The three punishing pieces are separated into two lyrical segments each, but "Chapter I" comes out firing on all cylinders, a straight shot of dense velocity replete with tremolo picking and sturdy blast work with a sullen, melodic texture to the riffs that is admittedly catchy. I also appreciated how they used the cleaner, decrepit vocal lines as a counterpoint to the black rasping over the second riff. "Chapter II" opens with a fluid, glorious riff that is just as memorable as the first song, but it too picks up the pace for a thundering vortex, and once again, the band mixes up the vocals to prevent even a hint of monotony.
"Chapter III" is similar to the other tracks, only a bit more bloated, with a great, swaggering breakdown around the 4:20 minute mark that ties it all together. The riffs here and elsewhere certainly ring true of a wealth of Scandinavian bands in the field. You'll hear a bit of Bathory, Mayhem, Immortal, Marduk and Dissection in there, with perhaps a bit of countrymen Barathrum's pomp; but the use of the harsh clean vocals and the overall structure of their riffing doesn't feel too close to any one particular influence. The mix of the demo is quite lavish, with a lot of resonance to the vocals and a chunky, punishing weight to the guitars that still leaves room for its concentrated, melodic fiber. Then again, with nearly 20 years of experience, any less would prove unacceptable. Lord of Pagathorn proves here that the second chapter of its existence is worth hearing. Not every riff is equally amazing, and I almost wish they would have varied the material a bit more within the actual metal tracks, but this is professional and potent enough that a full-length of equivocal quality will ensure that people remember them this time.
Verdict: Win [7.5/10]