Here’s a song I thought fit the season rather nicely. Natural Spirit is a folk/pagan metal band from Ukraine, and Внукам Даждь-Бога (To The Grandchildren of Dazhd-God, at least as Encyclopaedia Metallum translates it) appears on their original 1999 demo Star Throne. The band have released three albums since, most recently in 2011, but this is the only one I’ve heard, so I can’t speak for what they sound like these days.
I’m always a sucker for that cheap, almost SNES-sounding keyboard you find especially on Ukrainian pagan metal albums (Nokturnal Mortum’s cover of “Sorrow of the Moon” by Celtic Frost could be straight out of Secret of Mana or Soul Blazer at times). Of course there’s nothing authentic about it, but its primitive sound in comparison to other synth puts it in a unique position to sound both ancient and entirely unnatural. It’s both reverently pagan and haunting in a dark, fantasy-themed way, uniting visions of Tolkienic landscapes with conjurations of long forgotten gods.
The name in the title, Dazhd-God, refers to the Slavic sun god Dažbog, son of the fire god Svarog. The frequent references to Slavic mythology in Eastern European folk and folk metal are always revealing, if only for the lack of attention this pantheon receives. Translations of the Prose and Poetic Eddas are a dime a dozen, and most people who have the slightest passing interest in mythology have probably read at least some segments of them. History and Germanic Studies departments around the world specialize in them. As diligent as metal bands have been in preserving tales of the Norse gods, the historical texts are there to be had with or without them. With no Slavic Snorri Sturluson to fall back on, Eastern European bands interested in preserving and resurrecting the past share less company. They are far more uniquely responsible for my having ever even heard these names. It is perhaps a consequence of this that lends Slavic pagan metal a stronger affinity with mysticism, often coupled with an almost violent, desperate sense of pride. Внукам Даждь-Бога avoids the latter, but it definitely presents Dažbog in an otherwordly, supernatural light that you won’t find much of in Norse-centric metal beyond Burzum.