Ragnarok – “Psychopathology” (Agonia Records)
Dominate! Subjugate!! Sexual deviant!!! Well, it’s obviously black metal time ha ha and it comes no better than from Ragnarok, Norse gods from hell who’ve been going since the mid 90s and now onto their 8th full length release. After a fair amount of line up changes over the years their biggest recent announcement had to be that founder drummer Jontho would be moving to the front of the stage – taking on lead vocals himself – following the departure of Hans Fryste, who had been handling that duty since 2008. His place behind the kit is taken by Dauden drummer Malignant, who joined the band in 2014. Bolverk, also of Images Of Twilight, is on guitars, and DezeptiCunt handles bass on what turns out to be his swansong appearance with the band as he leaves to concentrate on new projects! With Marduk’s bassist Devo behind the console and cover art designed by Marcelo Vasco (Slayer, Machine Head, Dimmu Borgir), “Psychopathology” is premium quality Norwegian black metal at its best. Catapulted by Malignant’s marathon drum work and napalm blast beats, Bolverk is unleashed like a Jötun asunder through an awesome barrage of epic scything riffs, dark melodies, and metallic clanging licks all intricately woven into the, as you might expect, highly intense material! Jontho is probably the most impressive, really rising to the occasion to deliver a faultless performance from his scream / drawled vocals. Although not high, and in Ragnarok’s case that would seem to be befitting, what I like is the way he sustains his screams, allowing the full effect to be felt by the listener that really adds to the atmosphere of the band’s material while still be able to discern his lyrics on songs like ‘Infernal Majesty’, ‘Heretic’ and ‘The Eight Of The Seven Plagues’ – undoubtedly those years of drumming have given him the lungs to do so! A most impressive album indeed, able to rival the best of Satan’s hordes in both its evil decadence as well as masterful musicianship, allowing Ragnarok to rise once again to bring their realm of unholy chaos unto us!