Reviewed: December, 2018
Released: 2018, AFM Records
Reviewer: Kieron Hayes
Originally released in 2017, Prophecy of Ragnarök is the debut album of the sizeable (3 vocalists, 3 guitarists, drummer + bassist) Swedish group, Brothers of Metal. It is now re-released with AFM Records.
Right from the get-go, the band is clearly Manowar-inspired, albeit of a more straightforward power metal bent. This is an album for those with a high tolerance for songs about metal pride, swords, axes, battle, steel, fire, Odin, etc. It sets out to be the soundtrack for a glorious ride through the most metal parts of Norse mythology (which would be most of it).
In basic style, you know what to expect: heavy power metal with lashings of pomp and warlike joy. It does its job surprisingly well though, really showing how far good riffs, good production and some quality vocals will go, even when set to a fairly well-trodden formula. This is the sort of album that reminds you why you like metal in the first place: sure, it’s predictable and cheesy, but it’s a hell of a ride.
The vocal work is a particular highlight, at times layering the three singers and at other times letting each take to the fore as appropriate. It adds an excellent bit of variety, with a throaty, masculine delivery (not dissimilar to Grave Digger or Sabaton) rumbling along with Ylva Eriksson’s no-less epic cries.
“Prophecy of Ragnarök” has a delicious galloping rhythm taken straight out of Iron Maiden’s playbook, as do “Gods of War” and “Sleipnir”, the sounds of riding to war with sword held high, or dashing off on a heroic quest. “Prophecies” also adds some harsher guitars and vocals in the chorus, giving it a nice rough crunch. Numbers like “Fire Blood and Steel”, “Defenders of Valhalla” and “Death of the God of Light” are purposely designed to get the blood of any metalhead pumping like Turisas or Ensiferum at their finest. “Yggdrasil” is a stupendous metal ballad, and probably my favourite track on the album. “The Mead Song” brings out the band’s inner Alestorm with its catchy beat and gang-chants urging you on to drinking and feasting excesses. Well, that is suitably Viking-y.
All these songs and the rest do their work with gusto and verve, there isn’t really a dud among them. There is, however, something of a dud aspect that rears its ugly head a few times: the lyrics, though only occasionally. As said above, most of the time they’re cheesy but fun. But once or twice they go a bit further than that, as in “Sons of Odin”, which claims (albeit from Thor’s perspective) that Loki “has no sex appeal” (a statement Tom Hiddleston fans might take issue with if nothing else), or the repeated yells of “It’s Tuesday!” in “Tyr”, at which I can’t help but think of Psychostick’s parody song “Tuesday”.
These bits can be jarring, but honestly, the rest of the music is so good it outweighs it. Prophecy of Ragnarök is a rip-roaring good time, insanely catchy and I imagine equally good live. If you’re good with the cheesier side of things and don’t mind the odd janky lyric, this is definitely one to check out.