Title: The Pagan Resistance
Label: Sun Empire Productions
Release Date: 13 August 2021
Format Reviewed: High-quality digital recording
Ravnkald craft their specific feel of pagan and extreme metal sound and hold all of the nostalgia of past albums, and deliver on their new direction taken on this album. They keep true to their pagan roots and, also have incorporated some surprising elements to their melodies and atmosphere.
Ravnkald started things off in 2012, with their debut album “Solsnudag” which received a lot of attention and praise. To this day, this album is still one of the most appreciated by fans of this genre. Combining black metal aggression with the mysticism of pagan in the instruments and atmosphere, to create a sound that still stands to this day. Following was the album “Immortal Sun” from 2015. This was a split between two other bands (Gjallarhorn-Ukraine & Fjord from Canada). A lot of success from this album and fans wanted more. Also in 2015 was the release of “Pure Pagan Blood”, incorporating choir sounds, acoustics and atmosphere, and not forgetting about the black metal either. In 2016, saw the release of “Ancestral Steel”. This album saw themes of ancient mysticism, pagan memories and glory. Special mention on that album is to Count Kriegmoon, aVenezuelan South American, for his creative contributions. 2018 was the release of “Ecos Paganos” following true to their pagan influence and wide variety of sounds. One more to mention is the album that comes out after “The Pagan Resistance”. Later on this year “United by Pagan Blood”, a split with Grim Skoll will be released.
To introduce Ravnkald: Martyr Lucifer, is vocal, Agoth Sterpe, Guitars and synth, and Lord Marganor, on drums.
Well, now I can begin telling you about this album, and to say that if pagan inspired black metal is your thing, put on some headphones, put it in your music lists, and have a listen. This band is going strong and would appreciate more support from the metal community.
First track, “Heilog Votn” is the introduction, a short foray into beautiful mysticism, portrayed in synths, and a what sounds like a telling of far off times, a tone of warning and despair, in the spoken verse and very captivating. I could listen to that again and again. Second track, “Nerthus”, a mix of black metal tremolo guitar riffs and rapidly played drums. You hear that difference in sound, more of pagan touch, and less of the coldness and aggression of black metal rawness. The singing is almost a spoken growl, very easy to get lost in. Through this song, the pagan influence is there, keeping the pedal on this sound, and melding and giving to the black metal sounds. Some clean style singing comes in at the end of the track, and harmonies too. Pagan is the theme here.
Track three “Circumumbalation”, synths, cool sounding, if that is a thing. Nearly a jazz sound coming in, and very catchy. Suddenly those synths are dropped and a hard riff is introduced as a single note, to the deeply guttural vocal. The change up in tempo and mood of atmosphere is very attention getting. Half way through the mood of music changes to black metal brutal vocal and scream. So good! Echoey screams, and riff and synth combination that works to hold you listening. Now a drone singing style and clean style vocals. This track is everywhere, but it works! You start off listening and think it’s a certain way, and noo, the surprise of variation grabs you.
Track four, “The Pagan Resistance” head banging riffs, and growling to start, good to my ears. Speed, and brutal edged. Some recordings of a battle, with sword sounds, horses neighing and muffled people yelling comes in, for that atmosphere feel. Fluted sounding synths and those echoey, tormented vocals sending chills. Tremolo and frenetic drums take it away and this point with a forlorn cello sound to close out the track. Track five, “Her Heart is a Grave”, suspenseful and mournful beginning.
Spoken vocal, whispered, and lightly sung. Meaning, more spoken, less singing. Breaking to a section of guitar and synth feeding the already deeply moving emotion felt in the lyrics. The whispered/ screamed vocal stops that and gives cold, cold depths. Riffing standing alone mostly, making the guitar the overpowering note here, and very well done. There are so many variations here, in synths, styles of singing, guitar and drums. The direction is seemingly all over the place, but also seamless in how it dovetails back, to catch up to what was set first.
Track six, “As Cold as Venom”, atmosphere and mood to start, with haunting synth work. Drums are less speed here and more forceful energies. The singing styles are battling between a cleanly sung version to the cold, almost witchy sounding growl. It’s a great contrast. Track seven, “The Wind Blowing on the Last Day”, grabs with mourning, and echoing synths to start. Track continues in a variety of synths, different moods and as always, the changing of the singing styles.
Track eight, “Epicedio-Sage and Whispering Ghosts”, first thing, before even hearing the music, the track title is beautiful and emotive. Atmospheres set in, sending the listener on a journey. Melodies cresting and falling to restart and build in a different direction. Track takes on a doom inspiration, grim with the heaviness and hopelessness. “Don’t leave me here, don’t go away” as part of the lyrics followed by a deeper guttural style of singing. Mood is heavy and sadly brutal. Nineth track is “Heilog Votn II”, the final track, bringing in wind sound effects and acoustics. Some poignant keyboards, and little trilling notes in the keyboards as counterpoints. Instrumental and transporting the listener to a place of deeply emotional music that sometimes hits us wrong or right. Depending on whats happening. To me, this lays down the thickening atmospheres, more winds and lastly single acoustic guitar to close it out.
What a journey of music this album has to offer. This to me takes a lot of time, to listen and rehear the influence of all the sounds. This band takes all of their influences and now has gone to different directions, challenging the listener to keep up. I enjoyed this, and it was the layers of sound that really spoke. The singing had that clear, clean and aggressive growling going for it. I very much appreciated the variety of vocal styles. As I said above, very captivating and memorable. I give an 8/10 Metal Marie
8/10 To Greatness and Glory!
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