Pradžia / Garsas / Sound

Poccolus „Poccolus“. Review. While the Lithuanian pagan fires burn

This album is one of the main stepping stones of Lithuanian pagan black metal (I would add, not only Lithuanian one). Recorded back in Autumn 1995, it was released and re-released several times: in 1996 – on CD and MC (Hammerheart Productions, South Korea; Dangus Productions, Lithuania), in 2006 – on CD (Supernal Music, UK) and in 2020 – 2LP and digipak CD (Inferna Profundus Records, Geležinio Vilko Produkcija).

Mindaugas Peleckis
2020 m. Liepos 04 d., 15:37
Skaityta: 82 k.
Poccolus „Poccolus“. Review. While the Lithuanian pagan fires burn

The album was recorded by three main musicians: Ramūnas Peršonis (vocals, guitars, keyboards, wolf’s howling; all music and lyrics; remastering in 2006; also known from bands Sala, Sovijus, Ha Lela, Zpoan Vtenz), Raimondas Ramonas (bass guitar) and Audrius Šimkūnas (drums; released numerous albums of field recordings, drone, ambient and experimental music as Sala). Also, we can hear keyboards by Elena on „Ugnis kyla virš ąžuolų“ and „Rudens miško šnabždesiai“, and kanklės by late famous folk musician Vilma Čiplytė (Zpoan Vtenz, Ha Lela, Keisto Folkloro Grupė, Goštauta) on „Pakol dega laužai“, „Ugnis kyla virš ąžuolų“ and „Kirsk, Medeine, kirsk“.

The cover art – by Asta, the album was recorded at „Tamsta Studio“, recording engineer Giedrius Vaškevičius, mixed by Poccolus and Arvydas Skernevičius.

Legendary band Poccolus was formed in Utena in spring or summer of 1993, after thrash/black metal band Nemesis had split-up into Nahash and Poccolus. „Poccolus“ is the only album of the band, the other releases being demo and promo cassettes and compilation & live album „Ragana“ (2009).

Why is this album considered as a cult one for more than twenty years? Both music and lyrics are actual today, and I have no doubt, they will be actual for many years more. It’s a pure classic. On one hand, it shows what musical trends were popular back in 1995 (Bathory, Rotting Christ, Burzum, Alastis, Samael, Dark Throne, Satyricon, Enslaved, Primordial, In The Woods..., Skyforger, Emperor, Mayhem, Immortal, Ulver, Dimmu Borgir, Cradle Of Filth, Mordor and many more bands that started to use synths with black metal sound), on the other hand, – its content is unique as it is not Viking-like or so, it’s pure Lithuanian with a big touch of Lithuanian/Prussian mythology, and sung only in Lithuanian.

Lithuanian instrument kanklės (known in other cultures under other names, for example, Finnish kantele), keyboards and lyrics that deal with old Lithuanian gods, runes, visions are not just primitive ones: the old gods were always present in Lithuania, they are, and they will be. So that’s why there’s no time limit to listen to these songs dedicated to gods and goddeses Gabija, Medeina, Pikulis, sacred oaks, sacred fire, vilkolakiai (werewolves).

Pikulis (otherwise – Pikuolis, Peckols, Pocols, Picullus, Pykullas, Patollo, Patollum, Patolli, Patolen) himself is one of the three main Old Prussian gods. His sphere of action is related to underworld, burying rituals. According to chronicler Simon Grunau (1529), Patollo was one of the three gods portrayed on the flag and coat of arms of King Widewuto and worshiped in the temple of Rickoyoto (see the picture). The Sudovian Book (1520s) has mentioned two beings – Peckols, the god of hell and darkness, and Pockols, the airborne spirit or devil.

You can find translations of the lyrics in the album’s CD and LP versions. Also, you can find it here:

Eight songs from ten have the lyrics. Mysterious „Dvasklajys“ („Wandered of the spirit“) has shamanic voice by R. Peršonis.

About the songs. The whole album is more than 60 minutes, and, as you can see, most of the songs are quite long and epic and last from five to almost twelve minutes.

1 Vilkolakiai 7:54

2 Pakol Dega Laužai 6:00

3 Ugnis Kyla Virš Ąžuolų 11:49

4 Begeyte Peccolle 7:39

5 Jie Ateis... 3:22

6 Rudens Miško Šnabždesiai 6:45

7 Tai Bus Mano Triumfo Valanda 5:35

8 Kirsk, Medeine, Kirsk 5:23

9 Dvasklajys 3:00

10 Outro (earlier called Untitled) 2:34

„Vilkolakiai“ („Werewolves“) perfectlly begins the album with keyboards mixed with black metal guitar sound and howling voice which sometimes gets more quiet. Shadows of trees, loneliness, mystic wind, wolves, full moon… Wolf rune… Very intense song with very deep lyrics about metaphorical (?) connection between a wolf and a man.

Second song, „Pakol dega laužai“ („While the fires burn“) also deals with man’s connection with nature. Night, fires burn, owl’s voice is a sign… Then, again, as in the first song, a vision appears, perhaps a vision of goddess Gabija, goddess of Fire and Cosmic depth.

Third piece, „Ugnis kyla virš ąžuolų“ („Fire rises over the oaks“), starts with kanklės’ sounds. It’s rather slow and very epic, and it’s the longest piece in the album. „There is hidden wisdom locked in the deepest vaults, there are hidden keys from the doors of eternity“, – sings (in Lithuanian, of course) R. Peršonis. What is this song about, who is the „prince of sorrow and despair“? Again, it seems, it’s a mysterious and quiet personal vision (here we can remember famous Lithuanian poet Vytautas Mačernis, who died very young, but wrote terrific poetry including his „Visions“).

In this album, you can everywhere feel the touch of Lithuanian (or wider – Baltic, Prussian) feel of things. Sacred nature is here the essential part.

The fourth song is called „Begeyte Peccolle“. These words are mentioned in The Sudovian Book: when the late one is being buried, friends shout this formula, which approximately means the wandering away of evil spirits, the curse of Pikulas. „Oh come, Lord of Darkness, shrouded by your mystery / Take me into your depth where I’ll stay alone in death.“

In the fifth song, „Jie ateis...“ („They will come“), there’s a special harmony between howling voice and keyboards, so this rather short song (03:21) becomes a prophetical hymn. „They, coming and carrying fear, the mysterious warriors of darkness.“ Here, pagan visions are supllemented with the visions of Apocalypse.

The sixth piece, „Rudens miško šnabždesiai“ („Whispers of autumn’s wood“), reveals us „an old secret known to the ancient wizards“ (Lithuanian word „žynys“ here is more meaningful as you shouldn’t think about wizards from tales, but rather druid-like sages of ancient Baltic world).

The atmosfere of the album is getting more and more intense in the seventh song – „Tai bus mano triumfo valanda“ („That will be an hour of my triumph“). Again, fire, sword, runes and visions. Here, the Horned God is mentioned. As we might know from the studies of mythologies, „many horned deities are known to have been worshipped in various cultures throughout history, and the evidence for horned gods appear very early in the human record. The so-called Sorcerer dates from perhaps 13,000 BCE. Twenty-one red deer headdresses, made from the skulls of the red deer and likely fitted with leather laces, have been uncovered at the Mesolithic site of Star Carr. They are thought to date from roughly 9,000 BCE.“ ( Did Lithuanians also have the Horned God? According to the late mythologist Gintaras Beresnevičius, such epithet belonged not only to the highest god Perkūnas, bet also to the mysterious Zuikių dievas (God of hares). „Burn, fire, carry me!“

The last song with lyrics, „Kirsk, Medeine, kirsk“ („Strike, Medeinė, strike“) is dedicated to goddess Medeinė (or Žvorūna; from Lithuania medis – tree or medė – forest; žvėris – animal), ruler of forests, trees and animals. Medeinė is a goddess with both divine and demonic traits, she protects the forest from the hunters. The cult of Medeinė flourished in Eastern Lithuania, especially until baptism of the Kingdom. „The dark side of Medeinė, the destroying power of nature.“

The album ends with two impressive instrumental tracks, and the last one is „Outro“. It’s interesting to mention that there was no intro in this album which is rather unusual for black metal albums. Why? Another mystery, perhaps, vision which doesn’t need any words…