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Ragnarok - "Collectors Of The King" (CD)

Ragnarok - "Collectors Of The King" CD cover image

"Collectors Of The King" track listing:

1. Resurrection (0:55)
2. Stabbed By The Horns (4:58)
3. Burning The Earth (5:17)
4. In Honour Of Satan (5:29)
5. Collectors Of The King (4:14)
6. Eternal Damnation (3:54)
7. The Ancient Crown Of Glory (4:10)
8. May Madness Hunt You Down (5:07)
9. Wisdom Of Perfection (4:41)

Reviewed by on April 25, 2010

"There is no doubt that the band knows what they are doing, and does a fine job of it, but this album is standard for the black metal genre and largely unmemorable."

With the explosion of black metal in the early 90’s came a ton of bands priming for the dark spotlight. Bands like Emperor, Immortal, and Mayhem revolutionized and set the standards for all other bands in the genre. A lot of Norwegian bands have come and gone over the years, some of them more renowned, but a few are still waving the evil flag high and proud. Since 1994, Ragnarok has maintained some sort of presence in black metal. Though not as well-known as the others mentioned above, they have still carved out a solid career that has attracted a cult-like audience. After a six year wait, the band returns with a completely reshuffled lineup on “Collectors Of The King.”

While the band has used everything from acoustic guitars to lofty keyboard flourishes in the past, “Collectors Of The King” avoids all that nonsense for some old-school black metal aesthetics. Save for a short intro in “Resurrection,” Ragnarok’s sixth album doesn’t waste any time in presenting a heavy-handed attack of blast beats and caustic riffs. While the band would push their songs into lengths exceeding seven minutes in the past, the eight tracks are within the four-five minute range. This leaves little room to screw around, something that Ragnarok avoids doing.

“Stabbed By The Horns” is an aggressive start that sets the tone for the remainder of the album. The band doesn’t think too much out of the black box, sticking with what they know. A few melodic moments are interspersed around, including a gripping clean break in “In Honour Of Satan” and an epic intro to closer “Wisdom Of Perfection.” The band also works in varying tempos on the title track and “Eternal Damnation.”

While Ragnarok has experience and skill on their side, “Collectors Of The King” still can’t avoid sounding like every other black metal album. There is nothing original or adventurous about this album, which may turn off those who are obsessed with the genre and looking for something different. There is nothing inherently flawed about playing formulaic black metal if done properly, but the songs go by without leaving much of a lasting impression, even after several listens.

In the time since 2004's “Blackdoor Miracle,” the whole lineup has changed, with only original drummer Jontho staying around. The new members fit in like perfectly-shaped puzzle pieces and the band has decent chemistry together. Jontho is clearly the attraction here, as his tight playing is up front in the mix and comprised of speedy fills and hammer-like double bass work. However, like much of black metal, the bass is buried into oblivion, the guitar is nothing more than repetitive tremolo-picked riffs, and the raspy vocals feign interest for about five minutes.

One’s enjoyment of “Collectors Of The King” will depend on their appreciation of black metal in all its various forms. Ragnarok bounces back after another hitch in the road with a strong collection of songs, but there isn’t anything that stands out as being worth an immediate listen. There is no doubt that the band knows what they are doing, and does a fine job of it, but this album is standard for the black metal genre and largely unmemorable.

Highs: Solid black metal sound, killer drumming, a few epic-style clean breaks work well.

Lows: Cheesy Satanic lyrics, inaudible bass, nothing original about their sound.

Bottom line: Competent black metal that will please die-hard fans, but lacks any clear-cut innovation.

Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls
2.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)