Graveland: “Cold Winter Blades” 2010. The soundtrack to “Ragnarok”: 2013 motion picture !

Ragnarok -- 2013 Motion Picture
Ragnarok — 2013 Motion Picture

As I watched the subtitled-in-Norwegian 2013 fantasy/Viking 2013 flick, “Ragnarok”, I pictured the flames and explosions ravaging the mystical Finnmarkian Scandinavian-Russian landscape — to the tune of “Cold Winter Blades”. To see Queen Asa clutch her three-sided necklace and the foolish king storm towards mayhaps the eye of Odin, I didn’t hear Bathory. I heard Rob Darken’s decidedly darker and only 3 years prior, Viking Black Metal. How wonderful it would have melded and not the Swiss cheese of the quasi-Classical violins and other nonsense the movie had used for tearjerking music effect. Turd music should not have been used for “Ragnarok”, no matter how much of a family epic adventure this film portended to be. It carried a very dark, oblique message that the Vikings had more wisdom to depart than the stupid ignorant masses think. “Mankind knows  little”. Period. That was a smidgen of what could be decoded of the runic events unfolded in the deep, dark past.

Why this Graveland recording for this “Ragnarok” movie? 1. The cover for the recording: Perfectly matched to the books depicting runes and species of beast and fauna thought extinct carried by the young, single-with-children (who come along for the roost) young man archaeologist main character.

Graveland’s “Spears Of Heaven” full-length from 2009 could not prepare the faithful for “Cold Winter Blades”. A perfect 34 minutes and 50 seconds started off with a sweeping majesty as scenery vast and Vikings bedecked gloriously become manifest in our time.

“In The Morning Mist” is a 7-minute oracle of the greatness to come. It is delivered like Q. Bathory showed us first on “Twilight Of The Gods” and “Hammerheart”. The vocals are more pained and deeper, however.  Yet the stoicism fits the choirs and bashing that rumble on; the guitars acting like waves of stormy seas with distorted ripples in time with their distortion. “From the Beginning of Time” is 6:24 of perfection in depicting the Viking Genesis. Graveland capture “Blood Fire Death” and imbue it with prime Virgin Steele meets “Shadowthrone” Satyricon. “White Winged Hussary” picks up the pace and shifts the emphasis towards a watching of events that are unfolding. The drums pounds on tom fills as a Manilla Road-like (circa “Voyager”) riff is peeled from the armory of Mastermind Rob Darken a.k.a. (the Master of Ceremonies of all things Graveland). The great Capricornus is missed from Graveland’s early days, yet at least he set a drumming bar that must always be at least met, if of course understood — hard to match up with. The 4th track “Spear of Wotan” goes best with the “Ragnarok” movie playing with the sound off. The adventurers are finding it difficult to traverse sacred Viking ground; much less the site of this hard-to-decode Runic event-horizon pinnacle of their history. The mastery over the elements and at-one-with-nature pride and reverence for life’s pure bestial lust reverberates off each Graveland note and percussive tone hit!

“Dance of Axes and Swords” is the epic finale of “Cold Winter Blades”. These 5 songs may be but an EP in the lexicon of Graveland, yet with it’s symmetrical song perfection it sure sounds like and plays out like a full-length. The pace is barbarically cutting and the guitars are the “axes” that keep chiming their high Black Metal ringing. Not a weak strum in sight.

Rob Darken is on all instruments and vocals. Hail!

The secret of these runes, onscreen, will remain forever sealed. Yet what a fine visual motion picture I found to match it up with!

Graveland’s EP from 2008, “Wotan Mit Mir” with a spectacular epic 2:15 scenic opening, kind of set the stage for this most triumphant and fired-up modern phase of Graveland. The 8 minute and 45 second “Rainbow Bridge” is pure soul-bursting dynamite! As all the cosmos bursts open with “Wotan mit mir” (7:52) — The “Ragnarok” movie at about 1 1/2 hours, surely gives enough time to play this EP — yet I wouldn’t do that as “Wotan…” is very very aggressive and a battle in full flight. That wouldn’t be congruous with the movie. Yet I highly recommend the EP as it is the fire that lit the “Spears In Heaven”!

I doubt without this phase that “Thunderbolts of the Gods” would have scorched the horizon. Nor would Graveland have put their spears side-by-side with Bialy Vitez to deliver an amazing split CD in 2012. The song by Graveland that I simply adore is “Biala Husaria” as it’s 7:33 length has a cinematic feel that you can see in panoramic Viking vision when you simply lie back, turn up the volume, smile and close your eyes!

You see, for us Viking/Battle/Fantasy Metal heads there isn’t just “one road to Asa Bay”! (This whole mind’s eye adventure in loving memory of Quorthon Bathory’s epic “One Rode To Asa Bay”).

– Rich Castle