Vault Review: Ragnarok – Nattferd

Introduction

Band: Ragnarok
Album: Nattferd
Origin: Sarpsborg, Viken, Norway
Genre: Black Metal
Label: Head Not Found

The final battle prophesied – the cataclysmic last conflict between the Gods and the giants foretold by the ancients, but not to be realized until the forming of said great battle-inspired Norwegian black metal band known as RAGNAROK! Since 1994, during the height of second-wave glory, RAGNAROK have become notorious as one of the Norwegian scene’s most important black metal bands. Boasting a proud discography that stretches back to 1995 with their debut LP, “Nattferd”, and having pushed the limits of the genre without ever straying from the true BM blueprint, RAGNAROK are in many ways the quintessential black metal band. Underrated even as pioneers due to all the stiff competition but champions of the dark arts nonetheless. Now, without further ado, let’s get into RAGNAROK’s debut – the aforementioned “Nattferd”.

Hmm, yet another Norwegian black metal band whose debut outshines Mayhem and Satyricon’s. Not quite on the same level as Emperor’s of course, but the point I’m trying to make is that the early Norwegian scene was so fertile and so competitive that even great albums like “Nattferd” were lost in the sauce. You could safely categorize RAGNAROK’s debut as one of the original true black metal albums. While their counterparts crafted volumes of Satanism, medieval and Vampirism, RAGNAROK took the route of heritage and lore. History and chronicles of old celebrated and lain before you packaged in all the blackened trim: ghastly gutturals, lyrics in Norwegian, the heavy yet dry buzz of the guitars, modest production quality and an overall sense of nostalgia. “Pagan Land” and “Age of Pride” – the former an earthy and enchanting, pagan-inspired cut that evokes thoughts of wonder and of ancient occult works performed to the enthrallment of clan folk as they celebrate a solstice and the latter nothing more than a straightforward guitar-driven black metal track with rolling riffs set to blast-beats.

The Album

Notwithstanding its baser qualities, “Nattferd” is a compositional labyrinth devoid of hooks or catchy melodies; only the serpentine slither of unpredictable progression upon unpredictable progression, but not without that warm sense of familiarity – that old Norwegian brand that we all have come to recognize and appreciate. I truly like the simple approach taken regarding percussion. Tracks like “Daudens Natt” feature martial cadences that serve to do nothing more than to hold the experience together, rather than the Hellhammer way of trying to prove to everyone how great you are during every second of the album runtime. Less is more! And it’s my opinion that drums should NEVER overpower other phases unless you’re into shit like deathcore or tech-death, so at its core, “Nattferd” is also a work of discipline and traditionalism.

RAGNAROK has gone on to release one of the Norwegian movement’s finest discographies, and all done in accordance with what makes for the genuine Norse experience. The Gods! The lore, the ages old traditions of generations past and a palpable sense of unbridled wickedness to stoke the inner flame into an inferno of Heathen pride. True… Norwegian… black metal through and through, even more so than what the titans of the scene were turning out back then, is “Nattferd”. And RAGNAROK? Still unbreakable and still burning with passion all these years later. The greatest era in black metal represented so finely here – the kind of definitive style that contemporary underground black metal bands attempt to emulate every day, but almost always fall short. A genre-defining album…

From the Vault score: 9/10

Experience “Nattferd” by RAGNAROK right here as presented by Black Metal Promotion:

YouTube player

Thoughts on his?

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