November 16, 2012 | , | 4

Ragnarok, Malediction

Ragnarok: Malediction

Norway’s Ragnarok are back at it again with their seventh full-length effort, Malediction. I’m sure fans of the band are well aware of what they can do and have done on their six previous releases, but this is the first time that I’ve really sat down and hung out for the full duration of a Ragnarok album. And I’m glad I did as the ten blasphemous songs on this disc culminate in a maelstrom of blackened mayhem.

As black and bleak as this album comes across at times, it’s not a matter of uninterrupted blasting for the full run, there’s a solid dose of morose melody and solid song structure throughout. The album has ebb and flow, groove and more than enough blasphemous malevolence to frighten any clergy member upon first listen. Vocally, the lyrics are spit with your traditional black metal, raspy growls that are able to keep up with the unrelenting drum work of Jontho — who abso-fucking-lutely slays on this album. The guitars have a bit of a buzz to them and shift from cold to warming smoothly when needed giving life to songs when there should be and pronouncing all things blackened when required. Overall, Malediction carries a modern (and huge) sound to it, but also is firmly rooted in tradition without coming across as dated or tired. This album kills.

Ragnarok set the tone early and violently with the stellar “Blood of Saints.” The opener starts off with a bit of ambient sounds to set the mood before opening the flood gates of Hell, unleashing an artillary bombardment of demonic proportions in the form of Johntho’s calculated, yet barbaric drum work, driving guitars and HansFyrste spitting venom vocally. The band is wise to keep things interesting by adding a solid measure of groove to each track amongst the rabid explosions of rhythmic destruction. There are few black metal albums that allow you to sit back and head bang along comfortably, and this is a prime example. “Demon In My View” is more straight-forward blackened hatred in overall tone,but does incorporate some well placed melody to keep things “light,” if you will.

Other tracks that absolutely cannot be missed are standout “Necromatic Summoning Ritual” which has a bit of lead guitar work that sounds oddly like a Holiday classic that I just can’t seem to pinpoint. Anyways, it fucking kills. As does “(Dolce et Decorum est) Pro Patria Mori” with it’s memorable opening riff, “Dystocratic” and it’s searing, melancholic leads and the absolutely blistering “Iron Cross – Posthumous.”

Malediction may not be as “kvlt” as other black metal albums, but the combination of Ragnarok’s song writing abilities, forceful performance and massive production make for an album that cannot be ignored. Each track is powerful, infectious and packs more than enough blackened vitriol to keep you grinning for hours to come.