Praise for our latest release I Cry Out!
Andrew Manning The Midlands Rocks
“Anyone who has followed the musical career of progressive folk band Pagan Harvest, up until this point, will be more than aware that they like to delve deep into their chosen subject matter. They are not prone to embarking on trivial lightweight projects but like to deliver dark, complex and intense numbers that become very distinctive and engaging for the listeners pleasure. Last time out they regaled us with the myths and legends of the River Thames on the ‘Sacred River’ release. This time, on their EP ‘I Cry Out’, they commemorate the heroes of World War One and how bleak it must have been for those unlucky souls who found themselves entrenched in mud in the trenches of Flanders.
"Now this subject matter might be heavy but credit should be given for delivering a difficult theme with such atmosphere, whilst at the same time maintaining a deep respect for the fallen. What we get is one track, ‘Pines of Flanders/I Cry Out!’, clocking in at 16 minutes and for the uninitiated the fact that it is hard to identify exactly where this band draws its influences from is actually one of their greatest strengths. There is a real depth to this piece of music which reveals new hidden gems upon each listen, as they use the soundscapes with impressive effect. To give you a steer some minor comparisons could be made with Big Big Train, Gazpacho and Gentle Giant but the band are what they are with a touch of uniqueness.
"Ethereal female vocals and waves of keyboards provide an extended instrumental introduction, showing this to be an organic piece of work both in its stages of creation and overall sound. The familiar deep vocal tones portray a miserable scene as he tells the story of desperation, “I am sick with mustard……….The lice have my two legs”, with his clean sung vocals. With military style drumming cleverly interspersed you can picture the landscape being illustrated through sound.
"The most notable change, to their previous music, is the increased presence of the keyboard playing of Lawrence Reed who provides an overall fine collection of melodies and chord sequences. These are at various times stirring and then melancholic but remaining gentle with a lightness of touch to suit the scene. Welding it all together is bass player Steve Daymond who lays down the background glue to bind everything together.
"Without doubt the best piece of music they have released to date and one that paints a memorable aural picture that’s best savoured in its entirety."
Not a bad clutch of reviews for our new album ... why not buy it!
Doug Bearne – National Rock Review
“Pagan Harvest delivered a superb album in their debut work. The story-telling over intricate soundscapes will captivate audiences, keeping them hooked from start to finish.”
Angel Romero – Progressive Rock Central
“Pagan Harvest enthusiastically explore the intersections of English folk music and progressive rock.”
Dave Pegg (Fairport Convention/Jethro Tull)
“Really good and love the bass. Clever stuff!”
Oz Hardwick – RnR
“Freed from the strictures of percussion, Steve Daymond's bass gamely flirts with melodies. Lawrence Reed multitracks guitars, keyboards and orchestral arrangements more.. and Jon Bickley makes the most of lyrics.
If this had been released in 1973, copies would now fetch hundreds from acid-folk obsessives.”
Jerry Ewing - Editor Prog Magazine
A band rising 'out of the English pastoral tradition,' Pagan Harvest's members lend their respective styles - classical, folk and prog - to the band's inventive greater whole. The result is polarising, but you have to applaud their desire to deliver something so leftfield.
Grant Moon - Prog Magazine
Lest we forget, the wonderful Big Big Train don’t have the monopoly on English history! Back in 2015, Bristol’s Pagan Harvest gave us a promising eponymous debut with a profound Anglo aesthetic, and the follow-up shows they’ve only grown in confidence and ability. Sacred River draws on the rich banks of lore around the River Thames, and it’s a thoughtful album that’s dramatic, atmospheric and deftly performed. Jon Bickley’s engaging blend of spoken-word and dour melody is set to fascinating, folk-inspired arrangements from Lawrence Reed. Steve Daymond’s bass work is eccentric and well judged, and with added depth from co-vocalist Debbie Hill, this is interesting, clear-eyed prog from a band who deserve to reap what they’ve sown.
Colin Bailey - RnR
A dystopian vision of London seems to be the running theme in this record by the English prog-folk trio. The fantastic scenes imagined, it turns out on further research, are inspired by 'the myths and legends of the River Thames': 'the sacred river grew strong in a world where right was wrong and rust swallowed machines' ('The Beast Sits Down').
Andrew Manning - Midlands Rocks
There have been a really healthy number of new progressive bands formed in the UK during the last few years and Pagan Harvest can be added to this list. As with many artists in this genre they pull together a myriad of musical styles taking the listener off in different directions from folk to dark progressive moments all the way through to the underlying classical influences. The origins of the band stretches back over 40 years when the three members met at school in Watford. Since that time they have each followed a range of diverse musical journeys and it is only in recent years that their paths crossed again and they formed Pagan Harvest.
Simply put the band fall into crossover progressive territory and in essence they produce what is quintessentially traditional English heritage music with the new album Sacred River being their second release. Delve beneath the surface of the lyrical content and you get a portrait of the myths and legends of the River Thames. ‘Calling All The Angels’ will appeal to fans of Big Big Train and kicks things off in style. It is very English and very prog, with the opening keyboard arrangements portraying refreshing soundscapes (please note the video available on You Tube is the shorter single version). The main vocals come courtesy of folksinger, songwriter and poet Jon Bickley with his gritty deep toned voice being complemented on the track with backing vocals from guest vocalist Debbie Hill. This is a low tempo piece creating a highly atmospheric song. ‘Over The Horizon’ has a medieval folk inspired underbelly with its pastoral sound generated by some delicate acoustic guitars and orchestral arrangements. The track is melded together with the pulsing bass playing of Steve Daymond who delivers an even and constant beat. Flowing water in keeping with the album theme introduces ‘Isis And Osiris’ with keyboards throughout mimicking the sounds of the river.
‘The Beast Sits Down’ allows the talents of multi-instrumentalist Lawrence Reed to stretch out in various directions. His classical training enables the track to meander from renaissance style segments to rhythmic melodies offering a range of styles that adapts well to the spirit of the song. The doomy ‘Schoolaroo’ has an almost haunting feel to it with the chilling sounds creating an eerie image of the River Thames back in the dark ages. Bickley is using his poetry skills here to paint a picture of the river rolling on and on. The instrumental ‘Gigue’ would sit well in medieval times with its Blackmore’s Night type renaissance dancing overtones. You can just picture the gentry being serenaded by this in days gone by.
The standout track on the album tells the story of ‘Thorney Island’. A 12-minute opus which engages the mind and is a complex offering which requires repeated listens to fully comprehend the array of instruments contained within and it ends with the shimmering sound of church bells. ‘Chant’ brings things to a conclusion with its choral style vocals.
The songs throughout this release are varied and certainly unique. So if you fancy a hybrid of dark folk, classical and progressive rock then it will be well worth entering the world of Pagan Harvest.