One look at the cover of Ragnhild’s “Tavern Tales” should be enough to give you a fair idea of what you are going to get here, well, the title as well sort of gives the game away as well, so yes indeed, this is is Viking Metal, and Melodic Death Metal to boot, or even Pagan Death Metal according to their facebook site. And admittedly I am not the biggest fan of this kind of thing. I have dabbled with Amon Amarth, they are cool, but some of this kind of thing can be a little bit silly, you definitely need a sense of humour to go along with all the horn raising, axe wielding, fur wearing madness. It is with a great sense of relief that I can say this one is just a little different enough to keep you engaged throughout.
The main difference? Well, it’s all about the music ain’t it. Ragnhild (which apparently translates as “battle advice” in English, from the Old Norse Dictionary – which I had no idea existed until now, much like Indian Viking/Pagan Metal) offer an uncompromising level of technicality and musicianship that is very well hard to beat. If you can get over the somewhat cheesy nature of one of the songs, “A Viking Mosh”, which to be fair is still a fairly decent slab of Metal, you are then in for quite the surprise. This is fist pumping stuff, if you are the kind of dude that likes to chant along, and pump one’s fist, but here is not where this album is made.
Opener, “Battle On My Grave” does not just contain a Viking feel to it, I would say it is more Celtic in general. You could be standing in the Scottish moors and it would still make sense, the intro that is, or maybe on the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland and get the same feels. When these plucky young musicians decide to go all clean and atmosphere like, it’s a great thing. When they don their helm, kilt, whatever, or decide to bring down the universal hammer. Thing’s get really fucking solid, really fucking quick.
At times they can remind one of other great Melodic Death Metal acts such as Australia’s Be’lakor, or even Germany’s best kept secret, Durothar, but the intensity delivered here is something special to behold. Try track six, “We Will March” for example, or even “Under The Red Sky” if it’s an arse kicking ye seek. Melody, riffs to die for, and absolute control over each and every instrument is not only well on display here, it’s shoved right down your neck in spectacular style. “Glory Of Our Mighty King”, a prime example to be sure, to be sure.
I had no idea up until now that the Viking’s had ever reached as far as India, but it would seem that they may well have, for these lads must surely have some of the blood of the old in their veins, and this you will discover for yourself if you give “Tavern Tales” a shot. It is quite simply some damn good shit. Raise a glass, a horn, an axe even. Drink responsibly, don’t cut anyone, and behave thyself whilst listening. Nah, fuck that. Get drunk, run out into traffic and wave your sword at people, and have a great time when you play this one. It is a well known fact that The Great Mackintosh is half Scot, or if it isn’t it is now, and this one made me misty in the eyes in some of the quieter moments, and made me strip naked and paint myself blue in others and yell profanities at my neighbours. Long may they suffer from my ridiculousness. Top stuff right here.
Rating – 4.5/5