RAGANA is the deadly duo of femme fatales that bring a crushing wave of sound, but also make use of beautiful chord progressions and incredibly daunting transitional pieces to create one of the more subtle, but punishing assaults on metal music this year. RAGANA is not a new band to the scene and both members, Nicole and Maria are no strangers to the musical background. With their newest record, YOU TAKE NOTHING; they establish newfound footing and continue to progress their overall sound another milestone.
From the gentle opening of singular notes played on a guitar, to the sudden crashing waves on the introductory track “Spare No Man,” RAGANA establishes a common duality within their music that contains both the beauty of melodic and droning styled metal instrumentation, with the howls and bitter screams of anguish that accompany the instruments. It is almost overbearing within first contact as the screams are so incredibly forceful and abrasive. Maria is the conjurer of the intense screams and does a fantastic job of creating a serious disconnect from the false beauty behind their music. Perhaps it is the sudden jump from angelic guitar work to the smashing percussion that crushes through like a hammer, RAGANA is unique in their approaches and show a strong disdain and detachment from being a place of solace.
“Spare No Man” is by no means a short track, lasting around three-minutes, but it does create a sense of blending within YOU TAKE NOTHING, as all the tracks have a sort of seguing property to them. There is no unapologetic jumps or leaps into a sudden blast of noise between tracks, the intensity is concurrent and never becomes a jarring stab. Even from “Spare No Man” to “To Leave,” RAGANA moves as a singular being where the percussion and guitar work shine immensely through the overbearing theme of darkness on YOU TAKE NOTHING. “To Leave” features the first appearance of clean vocalization and the voice is simply lovely when paired with the creeping, gentle builds that lead into the following track, “Winter’s Light.”
The percussion is something that always stands out on RAGANA’s records as of course, while only being a duo, there has to be some shining element of the band in order to create a memorable sound. Nicole does a fantastic job of switching from building sections of tom and snare hits where they continually pound and pound before reaching a tipping point of a full-frontal assault of rapid-fire cymbal and snare hits. When paired with the guitar work and the frantic vocalization as well, they make for an unforgiving combination of raw emotion, and pure power. This is also where RAGANA can illustrate their sense of adaptability as well, on the second half of “Winter’s Light,” RAGANA takes the progression down and becomes more focused on delivering a much slower, more steady sense of direction. The change is welcome as it enables RAGANA to become subtler, letting the feedback of a guitar flood out, and letting the inevitable silence to flood in.
The next two tracks, “Destroyer” and “Somewhere” are similar in style and act both as catalysts for RAGANA’s suddenly punishing touches and gentle approaches. RAGANA has such a wonderful sound and while their range is mostly consistent, it is the unanticipated changes that keep the listener on their toes and always trying to understand when the next transition will happen. This is RAGANA’s greatest ally, the element of surprise makes YOU TAKE NOTHING a constant journey of unexpected turns and gives the record a new level of replay value. From the beauty of Maria’s guitar work, the gentle build ups, and the final crushing waves of percussion from Nicole that truly make YOU TAKE NOTHING a thrill-ride from start to finish.
With the final act of the self titled track, “You Take Nothing” is the second-longest running track, but it is also the most important when looking at YOU TAKE NOTHING as a whole. It singlehandedly manages to capture RAGANA’s sound within its six-and-a-half-minute run-time while keeping consistent in building emotions and and the repetition of Maria’s words, “You Take Nothing, You Take Nothing, You Take Nothing…” which constantly builds before reaching her primal yells of the same phrase. It is a truly powerful message that becomes engrained through repetition and makes for a punishing, destructive finale to one of RAGANA’s best records yet.
Listen to YOU TAKE NOTHING Here!!! – BandCamp