Ragnarok

Ragnarok

[rahg-nuh-rok]
Ragnarok, in Norse mythology, the doom of the gods. According to prophecy the end of the world would follow a severe ice age, in which human civilization would be destroyed. Then the gods of Asgard, led by Odin, would clash with the devastating forces of evil and chaos, led by Loki and the giants. After a fierce battle the universe itself would be destroyed by fire and a new golden age would appear, ruled by the surviving gods, including Balder. See Germanic religion.

In Scandinavian mythology, the end of the divine and human worlds. As described in the 10th-century Icelandic poem Völuspá and other sources, Ragnarök will be preceded by cruel winters and moral chaos. Giants and demons will attack the gods, who will face death like heroes. The sun will be darkened, the stars will vanish, and the earth will sink into the sea. Afterward the earth will rise again, the innocent Balder will return from the dead, and the hosts of the just will live in a hall roofed with gold. The h1 of Richard Wagner's opera Götterdämmerung (The Twilight of the Gods) is a German equivalent of Ragnarök.

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RagNaRok is the fifth album, released in 1995 on Metal Blade Records, by the rock/heavy metal/punk band GWAR. This album contains the most varied vocal stylings of any GWAR album, as the majority of the band lends their lungs to the tracklist (only We Kill Everything features as many different vocalists), as well as guest villain Cardinal Syn.

RagNaRok is essentially a heavy metal album and it is spiced with a story about the end of the world. The story involves Oderus and his alien sister Slymenstra being forcibly mated with the aid of rogue space aliens. Meanwhile, a comet hurdling towards planet earth is inciting the populace to revolt, and anarchy has set in all over the globe. An AIDS-like plague has crippled the masses ("The New Plague" is sung, by Dave Brockie, as a human with AIDS), who await the meteor's arrival and their subsequent death. However, it turns out that the comet is actually Cardinal Syn, a robotic agent of harsh Catholic dogma. Syn is representing the Warrior Pope, who is demanding that all bow down to him and obey his insane whims. But Syn is drawn to Slymenstra's alien baby, for a reason that is left for the listener to uncover...

As it could be supposed, the concept is about the ridicule of Christianity (especially in the song, "Martyr Dumb"). The highlights of the album include "Dirty, Filthy" (a rousing comedy anthem), the title track (featuring the final appearance of Sexecutioner on a GWAR album), and "Meat Sandwich". In other news, Drakulich does a mock-rapping bit as Sleazy P. in "Think You Oughta Know This" (a song about ripping people off, it is itself ripping off the Red Hot Chili Peppers in style; it's also Sleazy's last album appearance), and there is an energetic duet between Oderus and Slymenstra in "Fire in the Loins". "Crush Kill Destroy" features new bassist Casey Orr (having replaced Michael Bishop as Beefcake the Mighty) on lead vocals for the first time (he would sing lead one final time two years later). The one song featuring a character exclusive to the storyline is "Surf Of Syn" - though the vocals aren't the main emphasis of the song, Cardinal Syn does sing (or speak over the music). This brings the total number of vocalists up to six - Brockie, Orr, Stampe, Drakulich, Varga and slave Matt Maguire in his only song on a commercial release (one of the Slave Pit Singles, "MC Rhythmless," features him in the title role - a robot impersonating a talentless white rapper) to date (Maguire portrayed Cardinal Syn).

This album, as well as having a variety of vocal stylings, also features a musical side of GWAR not found in previous albums. Nowhere is this more apparent than in "Surf Of Syn." This song is the biggest change in GWAR's musical style (from the usual punk and metal to metal-fused surf) until 1997 (with "Sex Cow" and "Don't Need A Man," both from Carnival of Chaos). The keyboard is used heavily on this album, as well, courtesy of Dave Musel. In particular, "Meat Sandwich" features powerful sfortzando notes (similar to Oderus' vocals in attack).

Like GWAR's other albums, RagNaRok spawned a video: "Rendezvous With RagNaRok." This featured a paranormal investigator (played by Bob Gorman, a member of Slave Pit Inc.) interviewing Techno Destructo, Beefcake the Mighty, Balsac the Jaws of Death, and Flattus Maximus. In between the interview segments, live footage from the 1995 RagNaRok N' Roll Tour (though the music is dubbed from the album, not the concerts) tells the story outlined by the interviews. This video features the most speaking Flattus Maximus has ever done. "Rendezvous With RagNaRok" features three music videos: "Saddam A Go-Go" (though from 1994's This Toilet Earth, the video featured footage from the Skulhedface tour, after the movie "Skulhedface" was released), "Meat Sandwich" and "Surf Of Syn." The version of "Sonderkommando" is not the studio version found on "This Toilet Earth;" it features the Pledge of Allegiance sung to the music, as well as a line from "By-Tor and the Snow Dog" by Rush. "Think You Outta Know This" was never performed on the RagNaRok N' Roll Tour; Drakulich stopped touring after RagNaRok was released. It was taken from the 1996 Halloween Slaugh-Tour, though it used the album's music.

The "Surf of Syn" video was the first video recorded for RagNaRok, and was done on a very limited budget. "Meat Sandwich" was probably also limited in resources, though there were no props or sets to be made. The band was almost arrested for making the video, as they walked around the capitol building in Richmond, Virginia, in full costume (with no permits, and quite exposed) and simulated someone (Oderus) being hit by a car (which belonged to Jizmak Da Gusha).

RagNaRok's songs aren't performed in concert as frequently as songs from the other albums (specifically the albums Scumdogs of the Universe, America Must Be Destroyed, Violence Has Arrived and War Party). With GWAR's change in musical style towards heavy metal (as opposed to punk-metal, or the surf-metal found only on this album), and with the absence of all but two of the album's vocalists (Oderus and Beefcake - though Matt Maguire is still with GWAR, Cardinal Syn was killed during the 1995 tour), the number of usable songs from the album is limited (usually to "Whargoul", "Martyr Dumb" and "Crush Kill Destroy," although "Meat Sandwich" was a staple in the 2006 Beyond Hell tour).

Track listing

Line-up

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