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Asgard: Ragnarokkr
Asgard - Ragnarokkr Album Art

Asgard: Ragnarokkr

Melodic Progressive Folk Metal

My curiousity was piqued. How does a band originally founded in Italy, now with members in both Italy and Germany, arrive at a name that favors Norse mythology? It's not impossible or unique, but it is interesting. The band has existed in some form or another since 1986, releasing five albums between 1991 and 2000. But then silence, for 20 years. Now Asgard returns with a new lineup and sixth album, Ragnarokkr, produced by Roland Grapow (Helloween, Masterplan).

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My first instinct when considering an Italian metal band is to expect a variation on a theme. Call it pigeon-holing, but I think epic symphonic power metal, with either male or female lead vocals. But Asgard takes another path, melodic progressive folk metal. Again, this is neither novel nor new. Yet, it's something I would expect from countries farther north of the Italian Alps. Again, more interest.

To breakdown the Asgard musical formula, for the prog side of things, the arrangements are mildly complex with the usual suspects of tempo and signature changes as melodic heavy metal and some speedier power metal dovetail with the folk textures. Those elements range from classic folk music to Celtic stylings through various instruments, including acoustic guitar, flute, and harpsichord-like synths, and even electric guitar leads that have a "folkish" feeling. Additionally, the vocal arrangements add some chanting and choral texture. The arrangements also have a very rhythmic nature that invokes a flavor of folk dancing. Putting these things together, one might call the Asgard's sound as Medieval melodic progressive metal. Someone once described heavy metal as classical music with electricity. Imagine then, if you will, the travelling troubadour bands represented at a modern Renaissance Fair to be electrified, and you have Asgard.

While all these things are self-evident across the album, they are most notable in Visions, Rituals, Shaman, and Danse Macabre. Within something like The Night Of The Wild Boar, the Asgard formula turns more upon the metal stalwarts of heavy riffs and faster pacing whilst the Medieval elements still rise. As a language note, for those of us more monolingual, a few songs like Der Tod, and Anrufung, and perhaps Trance-Preparation appear to be in German.

All said, if you enjoy folk metal, you will enjoy Asgard's Ragnarokkr and their technical progressive metal twist on the genre. Recommended. - New fiction, crime fiction by Craig Hartranft

The Bottom Line

If you enjoy folk metal, you will enjoy Asgard's Ragnarokkr and their technical progressive metal twist on the genre. Recommended.

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