Jontho Pantera stated in a recent interview with Metalen Fanzine, “We are not musicians.” Well, they’re not Elvis impersonators, either. This project is too smart not to be “unmusical.”
Psychopathology enjoys the best of both worlds by keeping the trve foundation of Black Metal without sounding like canned blasphemy. Now, with Jontho at the mic while directing the new blood at the kit, Ragnarok has stepped up their game with a richer, fuller mix and balanced production while keeping their old boots on. Smoother time changes, quicker transitions, and lyrics elevating above the “hail Satan” standard give Ragnarok a bit of class and some distinction it’s earned in its old age.
“Dominance and Submission” introduces the project with mild effects and a brief intro before coming to the punch while “I Hate” showcases Jontho’s considerable competence as a vocalist.
The title track, however, stands out as the closest song that could be considered “melodic” without stepping over the boundaries of genre. The chorus is twistedly sing-song, almost a dark joke of a campfire chant, where you could audibly visualize the crowds singing in the fields. Just the hint, or even a shadow, of a possible harmony beneath the growl is either cleverly executed or a really tripped-up accident. In either case, it adds a sickly touch, well appreciated.
“Infernal Majesty,” “Heretic,” and “Into the Abyss” all serve up the rage on a nice, pummeling platter, writhing into themselves as you would rightfully expect from one of the Norwegian founders of the genre, as “Lies” digs deeper, challenging the listener.
Regardless of sharper material, they do remind you who they are. Except this time, apparently, they had determined not to let you forget.
Over the years, Ragnarok has been up and down the line-up coaster. Though its daddy has been the real glue that has kept it together for over 25 years, the sable collage of their discography and history makes it difficult to compare. Each era is a patch of its own. With so many chefs in the kitchen, the recipes, no matter how many times they’ve dished them out, don’t always taste the same. This time, they got the formula right; the meat is cooked just well enough for taste, but is still bleeding.