Wrath Of Ragnarok – The Pouring Of The Seventh Vial

Wrath Of Ragnarok is one of a number of artists going for the traditional doom sound these days. In this case, traditional doom ala Black Sabbath is made a bit more ‘extreme’ through the inclusion of higher tempos, double bass, and unclean vocals. It makes for a fairly interesting combination, though not quite as unusual as you think it would be at first. And in general, it’s pretty solid. The best moments remind one of the more uptempo sections of Reverend Bizarre, with a solid base of Sabbath-style riffing that still works despite its roots in decades long ago.

Basically, there’s one thing that’s holding this band back from being very good, and that’s the production. It’s too blunt: it sounds like an even softer form of what you’d hear on ‘Born Too Late’ or similar albums. It’s very distant and pillowy, and not in the awesome Kin Of Ettins way. It just removes a lot of the power from the instrumentation and handicaps the band significantly. If you peel through the production, though, the music is actually very solid traditional doom metal. The riffs are heavy and Sabbathy (fitting with the Sabbath medley at the end of this album), the drumming is minimal and effective, and the vocals are properly gruff. Yeah, the production has the issue of eliminating a lot of the texture and richness of the instrumentation, but the bass rumble and deliciously heavy riffs are still there. You just have to look for them more than you should.

‘Death’s Touch’ is easily the best track on here. The riffs are pure, perfect Sabbath riffs with an extra chug edge that makes them sound even cooler. And the addition of double bass actually isn’t silly: it’s employed rather gracefully in the context of the entire composition. The lead guitar in these songs is strong as well: sinuous and groovy, though the tone is, of course, pretty wrecked by the production. Another issue that this album faces is the length. Look, I understand that a lot of ‘true doom’ fans are obsessively into the genre. I know that a lot of them can listen to huge amounts of it without getting tired. But at around seventy minutes long, the style just wears on someone who isn’t the obsessed with traditional doom. The music is uniformly decent, yeah: but there’s seventy minutes of it, and every song is pretty similar to the other. I think this could have been cut down by twenty minutes pretty easily: perhaps the covers at the end should have been cut off. Then again, it does mean more musical bang for your buck: but personally, I think of albums as a unit to listen through completely, and seventy minutes is a lot to listen to at once. But that’s really a matter of personal opinion.

So once you get through the crappy production and the sprawling running time, you’re left with very solid traditional doom metal. I hope the band can get some studio time for future releases; musically, they have their act together. It’s the sounds they need to work on, not the writing itself. I like it, but I have to try to like it, and with better production, I wouldn’t have to. Traditional doom fans should certainly give it a go: others test the waters first.

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~ by noktorn on September 18, 2007.

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