Panychida keep the pagan spirit alive in their music

Panychida are not only activists in the studio, they are also keen at putting together certain shows for the good of metal in Czech. As they prepare for the Phantoms Of Pilsen festival that will be in Autumn, they are also working on album no. 3 which is supposedly going to top their most recent release, ‘Moon, Forest, Blinding Snow,’ which goes for a colder folk metal take than the usual uppity mainstream kind. I got a chance to talk with Honza Vaněk- Panychida’s guitarist- about his thoughts on the album and how he felt Panychida was holding together past, present, and future.

Hello from BRUTALISM. What’s been going on lately for you guys?
Hi, hope you are doing well there. Well, we had a busy time lately. Some changes had come up and we had to deal with that. The biggest change in the band is that we changed our drummer couple of weeks ago. We were having increasing discussions in the band regarding this topic over the last couple of months as our previous drummer Honza Kapák is very busy in his studio (Hellsound) still producing plenty of records. That was of course very difficult for the rest of the band as we couldn't play that much and also rehearsals were very rare. In the end Honza himself came up with the idea of searching for someone else, but to be honest he is excellent musician so we were under real pressure, it's very difficult to replace someone like that.

Luckily we got an offer from a friend of our guitarist, a guy who he used to play long ago with. He was big fan of our band even before and he wanted to try it and it worked out very well. His style is different, so we have to get used to each other, but it seems we will fit together perfectly. This forthcoming weekend we play our first gigs with this new line-up … Apocalyptic Form of Death fest in CZ and Northern Lights Festival in Austria. So, then we shall know more :-)

Well, and the other good news is that we recently finished a cover song of Czech old black metal band TÖRR. The song will appear on Pařát magazine tribute compilation. We are very happy that we got the original singer of Törr for this cover, so it's really something special, especially for the people here in Czech Republic.

And we started to promote our modest festival Phantoms of Pilsen, which we organize every autumn as an indoor event. This year we will share the stage with DORNENREICH, AGRYPNIE, COR SCORPII, GALAR, THE BATALLION, INFEST, BANE and STILLICE and we are really fucking happy for this excellent line-up. So this is also what makes us quite busy these days.

So it’s been about a year since the release of ‘Moon, Forest, Blinding Snow.’ Are you still happy with the results after reflecting for such a long period of time, or is it one of those ‘oh man what were we THINKING?’ kind of deals that you hope to never repeat?
It's not been even a year since the release of the album yet, so it's still kind of a fresh album to us :-) I think we are still very happy with the result. Of course there are always thing that could have been done better or differently, but all in all we still stand fully behind this stuff. Regarding the responses, they are different. Coming from all over the world, someone worships that album other people regard it as a crappy self-serving shit. So I think the situation is quite normal, hehe. We still have to work on the promotion, so hopefully some more of the positive ones are still yet to appear.

‘Moon…’ actually sounds pretty unique compared to the usual run-of-the-mill folk/ pagan metal music being released these days. Do you think you intentionally wanted it turn out that way or was it just one of those ‘on the spot’ creations that came along as the album progressed?
I think there might be some intention in that. To be honest we are really fed up with those humpa-hopsa folk pagan happy songs. At least, I am personally. Of course we use some of those elements, but nowadays rather rarely than for 'whatever it costs'. We actually almost don't listen these bands anymore. I think we prefer more straightforward stuff and it's probably going to be seen on our next record. But it will take some time yet.

Any particular influences you’d like the name, either about the theme/lyrical concept or the music itself?
Uuuuhhh … there are so many of them! I can't remember something spectacular at the moment … I even listen to pop music these days. My favorite album was the Marina and the Diamonds album (‘The Family Jewels album’) lately and some the latest of Mylene Farmer. Currently, I'm listening to the new album from Earth. Hehe … Doesn't sound that much pagan, don't you think?

If I should name something from the metal range we can all agree on, I would say TAAKE, KVIST, WINDIR, NOCTURNAL MORTUM, MY DIYNG BRIDE, EMPYRIUM … plenty of bands like that and plenty of absolutely different ones ☺. But I wouldn't say there is some ‘exact’ influence … Well, who knows where the influence come from and what is it all about. Better not to talk about that. And regarding the lyrical part of music … I think mythology, religion, anthropology and fairytales in general. That's the inspiration!

Since ‘Moon…’ was not your first album, when planning everything out, how did you want to top your debut album? Did fans and reviews push you in a certain direction, or do you kind of just shake them off and keep the music in a way that satisfies the band more than the critics?
We are not that big band to be pushed in a certain direction. There is no money in this band, so who would push us anywhere? :-) There were no plans; the only plan probably was to get better sound and just see what shall come out whet the record is finished. We had a different singer on the second album, so also there was a big change compared to the first one. But in general we do not plan, we just grab the guitars and what comes out, comes out. No big deals. A lot depended on our musical skills I guess. What's not there cannot come out ☺

For those who don’t know, how did Panychida begin? Did all the members know each other for a long time before forming the band, or was it just multiple auditions and everything slowly coming together?
Our guitarist founded the band with our former singer. They had known each other for some time, but not like since their childhood. It was a couple of years. Then the rest of us joined the band and things started to get in motion. Then that singer found his sense of life in family life. We are not in touch anymore. We found new guys and went on. But there are still three people from the original line-up in the band. Well, now we know each other (except our singer who joined 2 years ago) for almost ten years. Good friends, musicians on same level I would say. So the band can easily live :-)

Is there any particular metal philosophy that you strictly adhere to when creating music?
Just to keep it a bit metal and that's it. What's inside will show up itself I guess.

It’s interesting that ‘Panychida’ stands for a memorial service in the Eastern Orthodox Church; usually Pagan and Christian themes and ideals are always at odds with each other rather than working together… did you mean that to be intentional?
Well, I cannot answer properly as our former singer came up with this name. But I definitely have no problem, with that. As far as I can know, the origin of the word comes from old Greece so it's got some pagan roots anyway hehe. But even though, as you correctly explained the meaning from the Eastern-Orthodox Church, I don't mind the connection to the Christianity. And the Eastern-Orthodox religion is still more connected with its pagan roots than the Catholics. I think every aspect of life is interesting and for me it's more important to get the explanation of people's acting than to stuck with some rigid ideas. In some ways I think how the METAL fights against all new religions is funny. Of course I can get along with some of those ideas, but in general it's the same kind of blindness - just from the opposite side.

So what can fans hope to expect from the band in the near future? Tours… a new album in the works?
We have some new songs … I mentioned above what might happen in the future. But you never know until it takes place. For now we will just finish the summer festivals. Mostly in Czech. With touring it's very difficult for us … we would like to go on tour of course, but we don't see any support for doing that and for us it's very difficult to organize something ourselves. I think we will wait with this after the release of our third album. Hopefully the band will keep growing up and next time it will happen. We had some plans for a tour with Czech INFERNO and Serbian KOZELJNIK, but in the end it failed as the promoters were very unreliable. We will see in the future.

Speaking of fans, they are a heart of this musical engine, and possibly your best critics. Do you find fan expectations of your music, or the pagan/ folk metal genre, pretty reasonable, or are they completely off their rockers?
I really don't know what to answer to this question. I would say, I don't care about their expectations. And we are not that big band, so what kind of expectations are we talking about? Also with two albums, who can say what their expectations are?

Any particular event, either in a message or in person, where you’ve connected with a fan and what they did or said really impacted the band and let you know you were going in the right direction with your music/ideas?
What we are talking about comes from inside, I don't know where from. Suddenly it just exists and that's the whole point of all. Of course we are extremely happy when someone praises our effort, that's the best we can get, but we wouldn't and we can't change anything on our music according to someone's expectations or opinions. This is not how things work. So back to your question … I'm quite sure there were events like that, but cannot name a single one right now. Those are the situations when someone comes and tells you that he enjoys your music, CD, gig, lyrics …

Looking at metal itself, since you started listening to it, do you think it has gotten more diverse over the years, or that it’s starting to die out or the proper meanings behind it keep getting twisted around so it all ‘sounds the same?’
I think it has gotten more diverse, it has found new ways, some more progressive some less. Some even have become regressive. But that's all fine. Look at the number of the bands. It must have gone diverse.

That’s about all I have for now. Thanks again for all your time, and if you have any last words of wisdom for our readers or fans, speak now or forever hold (some) peace!
I don't feel like a wise guy, so I will simply thank to you for your questions and to all the readers who would give their time to spend some minutes with our music.

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Thank you.