Black metal is not a genre I listen to very often, I usually prefer varieties such as heavy, sludge, thrash, or doom. But, I do like to give black metal a try every once and a while to keep pushing my musical tastes and to hopefully one day grow to appreciate the genre enough to become a genuine fan.
That brings me to Ragana and their album “You Take Nothing”. I had heard some positive things about this release and decided to give it a shot and I’m glad that I did. Ragana have an interesting take on the black metal sound, and it is refreshing to see a two piece female band enjoy success in a pretty male-dominated genre.
Listening to “You Take Nothing”, I was affected emotionally almost right away. The dreary dissonant sounds and painful vocals actually startled me and dragged my mood through the gutter. Ragana are effective in building a depressive atmosphere with the relatively few tools they decide to use. The drums in particular are expertly done, providing tasteful fills and keeping things at a slow pace. You won’t find any blast beats here. The guitar is great, too, with interesting riffs played across the album both saturated in distortion and with a crystal clean tone. The wretched vocals on the album are raw and unsettling, but the vocalist also has quite a few moments where she sings cleanly, adding a nice contrast of beauty to the otherwise bleak atmosphere.
I also enjoyed that the album didn’t overstay its welcome. “You Take Nothing” is over after just 30 minutes, with all of its 6 tracks clocking in between 3 and 6 minutes long. This short length along with the nice variation between quiet and harsh moments means that Ragana have strayed from making the album an exercise in masochism, which I appreciate.
The depressive atmosphere on “You Take Nothing” will keep me from coming back to it very often, but I do enjoy a lot of what Ragana are doing on this album. This is definitely a solid album for me, and I’m glad I took the time to give it a listen.