In Norse mythology Ragnarok is a concept which has many interpretations, although a common theme is that it represents the ultimate destiny of the Norse gods, including their final battle with the giants resulting in the death of many of the key gods.
It’s fitting that the namesake of this apocalyptic event is responsible for some of the most destructive, intense and powerful black metal on offer, which would likely be a fitting soundtrack to the mythological Armageddon.
Psychopatholgy is the eighth studio album by Norwegians Ragnarok, and sees significant line up changes. Following the departure of HansFyrste, founder member Jontho is giving up his place behind the drums to take up vocal duties. while Dauden drummer Malignant will take over behind the skins. As if that isn’t enough upheaval, having laid down the bass tracks for Psychopathology, Dezpticunt has now departed to concentrate on new projects.
So, what does it sound like? Despite line up changes Ragnarok have stayed true to themselves and have maintained the intensity we have come to expect. Psychopathology is better produced than many other black metal releases, and the vocal lines perhaps have a little more clarity, but let’s be clear, this is a gnarly black metal masterpiece of the highest order and is a gem amongst modern black metal releases.
While many black metal bands have deviated from their roots with clean vocals and orchestras and so on, hitting the major leagues of metal, Ragnarok have stayed true to their roots, below the mainstream radar delivering another devastating aural assault. This album is best considered as a whole rather than to dissect and analyse track by track, suffice to say this is their strongest work to date (and in my opinion they have an exceptionally strong back catalogue) – There are no frills here, no pandering to trends or fashions, just battering Norwegian black metal.
If you have even a passing interest in black metal I highly recommend this to you.
(9/10 Andy Pountney)