originally written by Chris McDonald
Ragnarok has been churning out quality traditional black metal albums from Norway for the better part of fifteen years, yet elevation into the greater pantheon of Norwegian projects has eluded them. We’ll just have to chalk this up to an oversight on the part of the general metal populace, as Ragnarok’s back catalogue is of universally ass-kicking quality, and despite following a lengthy hiatus and the departure of almost all of the group’s original members, Collectors Of The King is no different.
While Ragnarok dealt primarily in straight-up black metal on previous releases (spearheaded by the notorious Hoest of Taake fame on vocals), Collectors of The King brings a slightly punchier, more death-metal-influenced sound to the table. Morbid, energetic riffs and throaty screams beautifully accent traditional tremolo melodies and the thunderous percussion of drummer Jontho (the sole remaining founding member in the band), with a mix that carries the music with both crisp heaviness and a raw edge. Comparisons could be made to Gorgoroth’s recent albums, but Ragnarok’s rhythms hit harder, and there’s more grim murk lurking ominously beneath the harsh bite of the guitars. Much in the vein of the classic Norwegian black metal bands, the sinister atmosphere that looms over these tracks is achieved through blistering riffwork and well-timed transitions rather than airy repetition. All of the songs consistently surge forward with furious momentum, structured primarily around trade-offs between mid-paced blasts and triumphant double-kick grooves, with no need for exploration into hazy ambience or lengthy redundant build-ups.
Collectors of The King is exactly what you’d expect and hope for in a modern traditional black metal album; its raw and melodic, but also tight, catchy, and unabashedly heavy, and it succeeds on the pure quality of the songwriting rather than any superficial attempts at grimness. Most of us have heard stuff like this before, but who cares? It rules. Buy it.