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This album is Ragnarok's best by far. It is seven sinister tracks and one very moving classical piece. First off, the guitar tone on this album is probably one of the worst/best tones I've ever heard. It's the kind of tone that takes getting used to, for at first it can be very grating. Most of the uninitiated would probably cite any other Ragnarok album as having better tone guitar-wise (except the first demo, of course). Well, I would disagree. This is one of the best tones, though the high amount of reverb and treble do make the melodies kind of hard to hear. It might explain why keyboards were used in order to clear up the melodies going on. At first I did kind of have a problem with the keyboards as I do with most keyed black metal parts.
But don't misconstrue my point, this album kicks ass. Guitar tone and keyboard aside (but convinced that one would get used to it and come to enjoy them as I have), the rest of the album is without reproach. Vocals are long, drawn out tortured screams of Satanic agony. This dude is not fucking around. I don't know what he's saying and neither should you. Just revel in his insanity. The drumming is, of course, Jontho. No comment is necessary, but skipping him would make my review seem short. This dude has one of the most interesting approaches to black metal. I like to think he was a drummer who wanted to start a black metal band and never gave up his dream. He did his homework and honed his craft, playing the required amounts of blasts and fast 2 step. He also incorporates some disco beats and other strange patterns. Definitely not a drum machine and definitely has some minor flaws, but a few small hiccups are nothing compared to playing it safe. Well done, Jontho.
Bass is pretty well hidden, yet has a nice little solo in opening masterpiece, "It's War", near the end. It's a quick solo and it's really simple, but effective. Another good quick bass line is in the opening of "The Heart of Satan". The bass does what it's supposed to on this album: stays the course on the tonic, holding it on the low end in support of the guitar tone, and occasionally adds a small deviation that sounds cool. Perfect.
The last part, the instrumental "Postludium", is mostly piano. It has some other orchestra- sounding accompaniment or perhaps guitar accompaniment. Either way, it's a haunting overture that really sets off the album and recharges the listener for another session of Satanic fury.
The album really does repeat well and listening to it over and over again is highly recommended. Seriously, this one is the most pissed off of all their albums and should be owned by every Ragnarok fan, if not every "trve" black metalhead out there.
IT'S WAR IN HEAVEN!!!!!
Norway is the cornerstone of true black metal. While I dislike a lot of black metal, Ragnarok play the sort of black metal that is not only tolerable but highly enjoyable as well. This is not some slow, suicidal, or redundant black metal by any means.
Ragnarok are fucking heavy. They also play fast as fuck. If I were to pinpoint one black metal band that is horribly underrated and under discussed it would have to be none other than Norway's Ragnarok.
These guys are actually technically proficient with their instruments and pissed off at the world. Of course Jontho is probably one of the best drummers of all fucking time. Out of all death and black metal drummers who have ever existed, beat for beat, Jontho can destroy them all. His drumming is immaculate. Arguably, Jontho is the greatest black metal drummer of all time: this album is evidence of such a bold claim.
The guitars essentially follow the drum beats. The guitars are tremolo picked but played very, very fast. The guitar tone is of special note because it fits the drum playing and bass perfectly.
These rhythms are so demented in the head that it's hard not to head bang until your neck bone splinters into dust. Vocally, this is MUCH better than the fucked up vocal performance on Ragnarok's latest release "Blackdoor Miracle".
The production is thick and plush unlike most raw Norwegian black metal; the production helps increase the awesomeness of "Diabolical Age". This is ripping black metal of the most blasphemous nature... highly recommended.