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Saga De Ragnar Lodbrock - Saga De Ragnar Lodbrock CD (album) cover

SAGA DE RAGNAR LODBROCK

Saga De Ragnar Lodbrock

 

Prog Folk

3.46 | 14 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

This is a sole album from an unlikely team of theatre and music circles that were unknown back then. Their project is a giant-opera-like rendition of poems describing the Viking invasions of France at the turn of the first millennium. Graced with a drawn epic Drakkar artwork, it actually resumes fairly well the prog-arranged medieval folk laying on the slice of wax. While the vinyl contained two distinct parts (five short songs making a whole on the first side and the epic title track on the other side), the Musea Cd re-issue gives as bonus another series of similar songs that fit the artistic canvas of the album quite well, even if the different recording session is audibly noticeable. If the progressive folk developed is very accessible, it is recommended to have a correct mastery of the French language, but overall it is not mandatory either.

The first five tracks are very impressive prog folk that is medieval as well as very contemporary as well, with some excellent drumming (Hellequin), fascinating vocals (from operatic to almost kobaian- type choirs), but the narration linking some tracks together is sometimes a bit too present (Loup Fendri).

The "sidelong" title track epic is a bit more of the same, but here, the narration bring the music to cheesy levels that are sometimes bordering on the ridiculous. Normally this was written for a stage show, which I suppose would lessen the overly dramatic tone (which gives it an unwanted comic spin to it), especially in the opening macabre movement Empire Des Morts. Olivier Proust's narration itself is a bit overdone as well: he had gotten us used to lesser dramatic on the previous tracks. Musically outside the obligatory cheesiness of the theme, the music is not far from Prokofiev's Peter & The Wolf, later to evolve in a brassy heavy prog, marrying the very professional multi-vocals quite well.

The bonus tracks give us a sort of third period into the match, adapting some François Villon poetry to music. This third "bonus" tome is more in the Malicorne tradition, all of the instruments played by François Proust and the recording session (in 82) did not receive a final production, so they might seem raw compared to the rest of the album. Rondo A La Mort sounds like Jacques Brel's Je Suis Un Soir D'Eté, managing the same kind of solemnity, as does Ballade Des Pendus.

As prog folk is one of my fave genre, there is a lot for me to like on such an album, but unfortunately the few flaws present on it, cheapens it a bit to my eyes. Don't get me wrong, the execution of this album is next to flawless and the end result is almost miraculous, especially in its historical concept. While a good grasp of French is useful for full enjoyment of this album, the whole project is strong enough musically that even if you don't get the vocals and narrative, you can only be impressed by the grandiose and flawless execution of the project.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |

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