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Asgard - Ragnarøkkr CD (album) cover





3.49 | 13 ratings

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4 stars ASGARD is an Italian band that has strong ties to Germany and has been successful, having been mixed by an engineer who knew PINK FLOYD a bit. I've known them since their beginnings in 1991, a genre flirting with neo-prog à la MARILLION or IQ. On their second, I even felt influences from ARAGON, which got me even more hooked. FYI, they claim to be QUEENSRYCHE, DREAM THEATER, GENESIS, early PINK FLOYD and SAGA or RUSH for their incisive riffs, which clearly shows the diversity of their music over time; progressive metal, certainly with a touch of folklore. So it is with emotion that I get down to this review of their 6th album, coming some 20 years after "Drachenblut" and a few internal departures delaying its release. It is here Roland GRAPOW (HELLOWEEN, MASTERPLAN) who produces the album and who gives a strong sign on the musical orientation.

"Trance-Preparation" opens the album with a short symphonic intro, then a deluge of sounds on a somewhat folk-medieval voice, a good-natured, rather frenzied rhythm; it starts much louder than what I had heard. "Rituals" continues with a small flute from the Middle Ages and then typical instruments that give in the folklore of yesteryear; choirs, a chained and frenzied rhythm to sound the death knell for Marillionian reminiscences; not bad, just confusing. "The Night of The Wild-Boar" continues at the same tempo with a bit more cut-off phrasing, and a sound that reminds me of the sound of ARAGON in the "Mouse" period; it's more fruity, more playful, fresher to listen to and more worked out, not to be underestimated.

"Visions" starts off with an energetic intro, a voice supporting the percussion or vice versa; the guitar solo quickly forward to a hard prog tune; the tones here really take on epic metal with only a few prog traces, in particular the use of a synth; the title arises with the appearance of a bagpipe or a hurdy-gurdy, giving there the distinctive atmosphere of the group raging inside the castle. "Kali-Yuga" extends the impression of yesteryear on a shorter title; we have a bit of BLACKMORE'S NIGHT in a metal version as if the guitarist wanted to resume service within DEEP PURPLE or RAINBOW by staying in his castle with his feathered hat. ASGARD does not cut corners and revisits troubadour airs in an electrified version. "Shaman" or the middle title, the longest, linear intro, predictable on a slower tempo, a solo that Steve ROTHERY could release then flew to the spaces of RUSH suddenly until the arrival of a piano solo which poses a little listening, return of a new guitar solo as sharp as ever, it's quite worked as a title but you have to go look for it, dissect it because many drawers, Pandorre boxes are open here; a little more ARAGON then the traditional instruments, some reminiscent of the typical Biniou kozh of Brittany, in short it is quite hilarious and the solos seem to be superimposed on each other rather than following each other in a logical musical framework.

"Battle" announces the 2nd part of the album always with sounds coming from medieval times, it's strange because we know that it is not possible, but the ears try to tell themselves that it is maybe true; the symphonic intro is superb in any case during these 90 seconds, it sounds bombastic, Hollywood metal, a little RHAPSODY too, then a deadly riff à la IRON MAIDEN sets fire to the powder for a fairly well constructed and rather melodic piece; small end to the harpsichord. "Der Tod" continues driving the point home with a title sung in the Gothic language on a well targeted prog-medieval tune, you know the group of troubadours who had already invented electric guitars and who hid their amps behind the large curtains protecting from the cold , in short we believe it and the final rhythm which slows down leaves a sacred guitar solo limit spleen. "Danse Macabre" occurs here by again distilling an epic and very nervous prog metal, to the point that one could think at times of RAMMSTEIN then of NIGHTWISH, the voice is indeed in the language of GOETHE on the other hand. "Anrufung" follows with a dark litany that takes off halfway and makes you want to take the leap, weird kid. "Ragnarokkr" comes with the 2nd long track of the album and its muscular intro, a little crows awaiting the sentence, a little PINK FLOYD hovering followed by a melodic metal tune on small progressive symphonic digressions, that s' packs but it remains well grouped.

ASGARD is therefore in BLIND GUARDIAN, a bit of ROYAL HUNT with lyrical flights. The title therefore speaks at the mythological level of the Twilight of the Gods, which must lie between Italy, Germany and Austria de facto. A singular album with medieval atmospheres and heavy riffs, progressive drawers; beware, what may seem a bit messy is just the conglomeration of the various influences mentioned above and requires a little exercise in the ears; an album not excellent in itself but innovative, an atypical album and mixing styles of music that fought amicably not long ago, to discover.

alainPP | 4/5 |


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