Today, Saturnal Records announces May 29th as the international release date for Rehearsal Tape ’19, from Turkey’s Pagan, on CD format.
Pagan are widely regarded as one of Turkey’s first black metal bands, and are officially the longest-running one. It was the summer of 1995 when Talciron and Noctivagus joined forces to light the first sparks of the shamanic flames. As the project evolved into a real band, the first official Pagan release saw the light of day under the name Rehearsal Tape ’96. More than 100 copies were spread to the underground scene within a limited period of time, and the band received a very positive feedback in return. Many critics hailed Pagan as a promising representative of black metal.
May 1998 witnessed Pagan‘s sensational breakthrough under the meaningful title Heathen Upheaval. Supported with an outstanding presentation, this release manifested a Pagan that is much more mature and strong in will. The response was so massive that all 1500 copies were sold out within a couple of months. The reviews were quite raving, and the band not only solidified its position in the international black metal scene but also succeeded in developing a personal sound. The band made three successful live appearances in Istanbul supporting Nightfall in February ‘98, Tiamat in October 2000, and Katatonia in June 2001, proving that Pagan‘s art is equally powerful onstage as it is in the studio.
Pagan began recording a new album in 2000, but it was not to be completed until 2007. OZ : In Transcendence was released later that year by Hammer Müzik. Following this release, the band went on hiatus.
This hiatus ended in 2019 when Pagan was invited to play at a show organized by the legendary Turkish underground ‘zine Laneth. Following this, the band signed with Saturnal Records for the release of an album in 2021.
In the meantime, Saturnal will release Pagan‘s Rehearsal Tape ’19 on CD format. Recorded live during the band’s rehearsals for their first live appearance after 18 years, Rehearsal Tape ’19 is an obvious homage to their first demo, Rehearsal Tape ’96. Aside from the parallels in the titles and the cover arts, both releases marked the beginning of an era for Pagan. The first spawned what was to become a band solidifying its position in the international black metal scene, as well as playing a few memorable shows before going on hiatus; the latter ended the hiatus and rekindled the ancient pagan fire.
When Pagan was asked to play at “Laneth Bir Gece III” – a one-day annual festival in memory of Turkey’s cult fanzine Laneth (now defunct) – there were and had never been plans, even remotely, to start the band again. To begin with, the current lineup, considered to be the “classic” lineup by many, hadn’t played together for 20 years. Accepting the offer triggered a chain of events: the energy and the fun at the rehearsals and on the night of the show, and recording of this release – which was, in fact, solely a kind gesture and was not done with releasing it in mind. In short, all the band members must have felt the same way since Pagan is united under the banner of heathen cult once again. The best part: it all happened organically. There were no talks, discussions, planning, or what not; they just picked up where they left off in 1999.
“There are many individuals we are thankful for their support during this new era,” says Noctivagus. “We feel fortunate to reconnect with old friends and meet new ones. You will see their names in the thanks list. Needless to say, all tracks here are from previous releases between 1996 and 2007. The tracklist matches exactly with the setlist, including the changes made exclusively for the show. I hope you enjoy it!”