September 22, 2019

Ragnarok - Blackdoor Miracle (2004)

Country: Norway
Language: English
Genre: Black Metal
Style: Norwegian Black Metal
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© 2004 Regain Records
Reviewed by "Alex" for Metal Reviews.com
I will be the first one to admit that I am a casual black metal listener. I am definitely not a die-hard fan who has every album released by every band which ever existed. However, I am not a total dilettante either. It is just the way I have to listen to black metal, and the bands/albums I like may not be the most typical. I have to be in the mood – angry, hurt, or very upset – and then I will grab an album off the shelf. I may not like it, and put it off after the second track. However, if this will be the record to remember, all the noise, screams, riffs and seeming cacophony will streamline into one almost trans-like listening experience which will go directly to the brain cell responsible for my mood and throb it into submission. Very often, after an album like this, I keep listening to my all-time black metal favorites (which may not even be the accepted masterpieces of the genre). Those include Arcturus, Immortal, Naglfar, Old Man’s Child, Thy Serpent and Windir. After Blackdoor Miracle I need to go back and explore the discography of Ragnarok to see if they should be added to this list.
Blackdoor Miracle is the fifth album released by this Norwegian band, the first with the new vocalist Hoest, also of Taake, and the first after some hiatus. It is also the second album after signing to a fast-growing Regain Records label and the second recorded at The Abyss Studio with Tommy Tagtgren. I intentionally focused on the numbers here, as it seems the recording deal with Regain and cooperation with Tagtgren reenergized Ragnarok.
Unlike their more publicized countrymates Dimmu Borgir, Ragnarok is devoid of keyboards, symphonics and catchy fa├žade. Instead, they are focused on true, raw, organic black metal in the vein of old Satyricon. The band, however, with the help from Tagtgren, managed to make a leap into a modern era, not being afraid to add a quality powerful production ditching away the unlistenable “pure” production of the old days. This combination, in my not so expert opinion, makes the current Ragnarok package so attractive. It is their honest black metal vibe combined with the sound might and clarity which is destined to earn Blackdoor Miracle many year-end awards.
Very roughly, the songs on the album can be broken in two categories. After the grinding Preludium intro the band plunges into the classic black metal cuts Heir of Darkness and Recreation of the Angel. Mad washing machine tremolo riffs make the undercurrent frozen melodies flow. The vocals of Hoest are simply insane, strangely audible even from some of the individual words standpoint, even though they reach banshee heights sometimes. The bottom end of the music is simply superb, Jontho’s drumming being both powerful and complex. His chemistry with bassist Jerv is undeniable, manifested by their interplay on Bless Thee for Granting Me Pain. The black assault only partially slows down when the album makes its way to the fourth track, Immortal inspired march Rites of Geburah. Bless Thee for Granting Me Pain and some portions of Kneel are also just some pure chaotic black metal rage. Hoest’s vocals reach almost excruciating points on Bless Thee for Granting Me Pain. What else would you expect from the song with such title? The other group of songs has strong death metal influence, namely the title track and Murder. The main riffs on both are awesomely structured, guitar sound is deeper and even more ominous. The band engraves those main riffs into a listener’s psyche going faster and faster on the title track or emotionally grinding out Murder.
Journey from Life is a standalone masterpiece, so reminiscent of Windir’s final songs. Mournful and Nordic, the band manages to blast through, becoming triumphant and towering towards the end. Such songs make me want to go on a long vacation to Scandinavia in search of inspiration as only the inhabitants of that peninsula can come up with these melodies.
More experienced black metal fans will point out what I missed and can tell you why you need to like this album more or less. I like it more by the minute, and strongly recommend it to anyone who is ever put on a black metal record.

tags: ragnarok, blackdoor miracle, black door, 2004, flac,

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