Review by Jeff Maki
Have you ever listened to so much extreme metal that everything starts to sound like Morbid Angel? They really were the forefathers of extreme metal, weren’t they? “Dominance & Submission,” the opening track of Norwegian black metal band Ragnarok’s eighth album, Psychopathology, instantly brought the legends to mind. Then there was the oncoming apocalypse that is Ragnarok.
Ragnarok has been at it for an astonishing 20 years. Given the band’s namesake was the destruction of the gods and the Earth in Norse mythology and one that has been popularized by a movie and countless other bands, you should know what to expect with this band. And if you don’t, God can’t help you.
This is an all-out war on musical humanity. This is the corpse-painted theatrics of Dimmu Borgir, wielding black metal axes forged in fire by the mighty Gorgoroth, willfully embraced by the cold despair of Immortal. Drummer and founding member Jontho is now the vocalist, and this is the first of the band’s albums he hasn’t played drums on since its inception. I would have never known.
The band has been around forever with obvious ties to everything and everyone in the black metal scene. The point is, Ragnarok is solely for black metal people and no one else. I happen to be a black metal person, so what impressed me the most about this album was the production and a full, heavy sound not often associated with this type of music. There’s also no symphony or orchestra accompanying Ragnarok. This is just corpse-painted dudes unleashing hell. This is traditional, old-school fury but with a modern take. It’s pretty bad-ass. I’m still trying to figure out what psychopathology has to do with any of this.
Standout tracks: “Dominance & Submission,” “Psychopathology,” “My Creator”
(Agonia Records, March 25, 2016)