Ragana, Thou smash together like-minded ideals, smother you on ‘Let Our Names Be Forgotten’

It’s an important time for music that carries messages that are here to push up those in society who aren’t, and never have been, treated the way they should. It’s all well and good to have escapism in metal or shit about everyday anger and war, and whatnot, but it’s a high time for fighting back against the oppressors, those who would bury our hopes at every turn.

It’s also fitting two like-minded bands would come together for a split effort “Let Our Names Be Forgotten” that’s one of the most intense and timely of the entire year. In one corner, you have the awesome Ragana, a trio that hails from Olympia, Wash., and have spent the past several years touring and making music that fights back against bullshit societal forces that hold people down. They’re wildly and proudly feminist and anarchist, also taking up arms on LGBTQ issues and railing against racism (the label putting this out, An Out Recordings, also proudly stands up for these beliefs). On the other side is Thou, a band we’ve long written about, one of the great units in heavy music who also have used their platform to rail against capitalism and support those with different sexual identities, among other things. There couldn’t be a more perfect union in all of heavy music, and this record is a triumph and galvanizing point for those who also are under the boot of oppression and for those who are helping in the fight. If you’re not fired up as fuck when these five songs are over, you may need to reconsider where you stand.

Ragana

Ragana’s side begins with “Inviolate,” as things get off to a clean start before Maria’s singing wafts over the noise, and the track takes on an indie rock feel that digs its teeth into the ’90s and ’00s sections of your brain. Harsh cries break the calm before the track rolls back to cleaner tones, and then the gateway breaks as fierce shrieks mix with shoegazey sounds. A disorienting sheen is dashed over the song as it hangs in the air and then fades. “The Void” is somber and slowly storming, coming off like a scuffed-up blues song as Maria repeats each verse line four times before a chorus that draws blood. “I hear your voice, and I know you want to follow me,” Maria starts, as the track dips into grungy waters, drawing filth and gaining heaviness. The track wells up intensity, as guitars build, Nicole’s drums pound, and Maria wails, “I know you’ll spend your whole life staring back at me!” By the way, I know Maria and Nicole switch off roles, so if I attributed stuff to the wrong member, comment and yell at me.  “The Sun” ends Ragana’s portion as guitars trickle and a buzzing builds before harsh shrieks tear down the walls, and the emotion blasts you in the chest. “We die together!” Maria howls, while the track gains speed, the channeled burning keeps you off balance, and the track ends in a pile of ash. Just an awesome display.

Photo by Craig Mulcahy

Thou’s end opens with “The Fool Who Thought He Was King,” which is apropos of right fucking now. It starts clean and calm before Bryan Funck’s vocals take hold, with guitarist Matthew Thudium’s clean singing hanging behind the cloud of noise. Sorrowful leads slither and bring pain, and about halfway through, everything seems to come to a head, with the music ringing out and stinging your ears. The leads then begin to twist, gashing your heart for every feeling, as sadness envelops the land, darkness falls, and it all ends harshly. Closer “Death to the King and All His Loyal Subjects” (again, just a cosmic title there) mashes your senses, as the vocals march, and the music laps in thick waves. The track is devastating and, in true Thou fashion, utterly blunt, unloading sooty torture, as Funck accuses, “Oh you treacherous swine, self-entitled scum,” before following with the nail in the coffin, “We are so very worthless, everything we do is meaningless,” that jams a dagger into your heart and hopes.

“Let Our Names Be Forgotten” is noteworthy and special for two reasons: First, we get more music from Thou, who have been quite prolific this year, and the awesome Ragana hopefully will find their way to more ears and minds. These are two very well paired bands philosophically, and sonically, they could not be more different yet still fit. This is a tremendous record you should snag while physical copies last.

For more on Ragana, go here: https://www.facebook.com/raganaband

For more on Thou, go here: http://noladiy.org/thou.html

To buy the album, go here: http://anout.storenvy.com/

For more on the label (or for a digital version), go here: https://anout.bandcamp.com/

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