It’s about time someone took black metal to some new exciting levels. A music style can only go so far until it becomes somewhat stale, and for every album released, there are ten others that do the same thing – and almost none of the time is it markedly better. Black metal is no exception, and I have a lot of respect for bands that try something new and innovative. But there are some bands that don’t need to. Some bands, no matter how many albums they release of the same style, never grow stale and are always the best of the trade when it comes to the style of music they perform.
Among the ranks of bands that perform excellent black metal that never seems to grow stale is Ragnarok. Normally overlooked by fans of black metal, they’ve been going since 1994. Something I cannot understand is how a band that has been going for 16 years, with 6 full length albums (Which are all very critically acclaimed, may I add) can be so criminally overlooked by the general community of black metal fans. Judging by the quality of this record, fans of black metal really need to give this band some needed attention.
A lengthy six years had passed since their previous offering Blackdoor Miracle, a critically acclaimed album that is worshiped by their fans and I cannot see Collectors of the King disappointing anybody at all. Instead, Ragnarok really do show they know exactly what they are doing on this record with monolithic black metal riffs soaring through the air, a distinctive dark and brooding feeling, a blisteringly fast tempo on nearly every song, beautifully performed drumming and well written satanic lyrics. To top it off, Ragnarok add their highly competent songwriting to this angry, dark and frostbitten cake. Every song here is multi-layered and dynamic, which keeps the listener interested until the very end, giving you the urge to play the album again.
The melodies displayed in this album are a definite highlight. They lay on top of the thick, distorted chords beautifully. The melodies themselves have a distinct Windir (ca 1184) or Taake feel to them; there’s a subtle folk influence here – just not in the form of traditional folk. If these songs were at walking pace, you’d find yourself marching to them, preaching the gospel of Ragnarok. They’re engaging and memorable, to the point where I could even recommend this to folk metal fans that don’t really appreciate black metal.
Every track is a triumph in its own way (with the exception of “Resurrection”, which is the fairly useless intro clocking in at less than a minute). If you’re thinking of checking this out, I’d definitely listen to the title track “Collectors of the King,” it’s probably the highlight of the album. The only criticism I have towards this track is the fact that it ends too soon, I feel like it could have been stretched a bit more and given more of a gradual ending rather than it coming as a surprise. Every song seems to have this feel – but it’s a small niggle.
It’s difficult to go so in depth about an album that doesn’t step a toe out of line. The bottom line is, if you like black metal, you’ll love this. If you’d like to start getting into black metal, this is an album I’d recommend to you. It’s accessible (as far as black metal goes), engaging and superbly executed. Perhaps this will give Ragnarok a place among the kings of black metal, I feel they have earned it. Fans of Taake, Windir and Tsjuder can rest easy with Collectors of the King. As far as modern black metal goes, this is the best you can get.