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Ragnarok – Psychopathology Award winner

Ragnarok
Psychopathology
by Erika Kuenstler at 29 April 2016, 12:39 PM

There is no country more famous for its Black Metal than Norway. Yet it's sad that so often when thinking of this legacy, people dwell on the leviathans of the genre, often overlooking the lesser known bands who are no less competent. And one such underrated band is RAGNAROK, who are back this year with their eighth full-length album “Psychopathology”, four years after its predecessor “Malediction”. One thing that I've always admired about RAGNAROK is that they stick to their guns, refusing to bow to trends. Despite this steadfastness,  “Psychopathology” sees the band veering in a newer direction. Harmonies have usurped dissonance to a degree, resulting in a less dark and broody album. This is in no way implying that RAGNAROK have gone soft; rather, we have a streamlined album that still hits with the unstoppable force of a panzer battalion.

With bassist DezeptiCunt and vocalist Hans Fyrste out of the picture, in an remarkable turn of events Jontho has now taken over the vocals, delivering them with all the aggression normally channelled into his drumming prowess. His spot on the throne has been taken up by Malignant, of DAUDEN, who, whilst very good, is perhaps not quite entirely on par with the drumming that fans have come to expect from RAGNAROK. Similarly, the vocals can be slightly one-dimensional, lacking the range that would really bring the lyrics to life. However, that being said, the chant-like style used in songs such as “Infernal Majesty” does certainly have its own appeal.

From the get go we find interesting little twists, such as the Egyptian scale used in “Dominance & Submission”, “Heretic”, and again later on in the penultimate song “Blood”. The riffage has remained as superb as before, with songs such as “I Hate” and “Into the Abyss” standing testament to this. The title track of the album is absolutely crushing in its unstoppable impetus, integrating haunting melodies with chaotic whirlwinds of pure tempestuous power, leaving me with goose bumps. Raw energy is skilfully tempered and tamed into malevolent beauty in songs such as “My Creator”, in which hair-pin changes in tempo suck you into ferocious onslaught. In contrast to this, “Infernal Majesty” is almost catchy with its feverish maelstrom of swirling melody. However, its only after the pinnacle of the album that things start to really take off. By contrast, this may make the first half seem a little bland. The four songs “Heretic” through to “Lies” have managed to capture that savage creativeness for which RAGNAROK are known, fanning the flames of madness to infernal proportions. Closing track “Where Dreams go to Die” is an equally overwhelming barrage, with slower paced sections giving the song all the more power.

Aptly titled “Psychopathology”, this raging album dances on the brink of madness, never quite falling completely into the abyss. Moreover, a slew of influences are blended in, adding dimensions to the solid Black Metal backbone. What I really enjoyed about this album was their ability to produce a strong Black Metal album whilst still incorporating their own unique sound. However, this album (the first half in particular) doesn't seem to go for the jugular quite the way RAGNAROK's previous albums have. This in no way lies with the production, which is on par with RAGNAROK´s typically high standards held over the years. Rather, the indefinable flame that usually engulfs their music seems to have been quenched slightly. Nevertheless, this is still a very good release. With Agonia Records streaming this ferocious album in its entirety on Youtube, you really have no excuse not to check out “Psychopathology”. I for one can´t wait to see them at With Full Force Festival this year!

Memorability: 7
Production: 8
Song Writing: 8
Originality: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Dominance & Submission
2. I Hate
3. Psychopathology
4. My Creator
5. Infernal Majesty
6. Heretic
7. Into the Abyss
8. The Eighth of the Seven Plagues
9. Lies
10. Blood
11. Where Dreams Go to Die
Lineup:
Jontho - Vocals
Bolverk - Guitars
Malignant - Drums
Record Label: Agonia Records
     


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