My Inspiration: Manfrog – Ragnarsson | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

Narc. Magazine Online

Reliably informed

North-East prog-rock outfit Manfrog drop their latest single Ragnarsson on Saturday 1st October. A bold and commanding track with tribal intensity, a ferocious fleet of growling guitars and a soaring, war-cry lead vocal that combine to take you on a sonic quest to unchartered lands.

Here the band tell us more about some of the influences behind the song…

Ragnarsson was actually written just over 2 years ago, but with the impact of Covid we only just got around to recording it this year.  It’s by far the most ambitious thing we’ve attempted and as such we had to plan it differently to how we went about our previous songs, which are much more straightforward

At the time I wrote the melodies for it, I was listening to a lot of Rush, Tool, Soen and Dream Theater, you can hear these as the song moves through.  The feel of it is very much like the Lotus album by Soen, they have a very modern progressive approach but can make it sound like it belongs in the classic prog rock genre, plus it sounds really cool.

The main riff, which runs throughout the song, is based on a simple shape like Home by Dream Theater, sometimes the riff doesn’t have to be complex, but once you write it in a non 4/4 time signature, it takes on a different feel.  Most of the song is written in 3/4 but there are about 5 or 6 different changes in the piece as a whole, as such you can’t just record in one long attempt and instead you have to give each section its own attention.  With the intro we felt it had to build and build then come to an almost stop, Tool do this perfectly in a lot of their songs, where an instrument gets isolated for a second or two, it totally changes the dynamics for the listener.

The composition was a naturally occurring beast, people ask me how I can write such long songs and really it’s not about sitting down to write a long song, you bring in your influences and look at how they move between passages, like Tool moving from a very bass heavy section in Schism, to a very guitar driven mid section, here we do the opposite but the principles are the same.  The mid section in Ragnarsson, is very much a bass and drums-led piece with just the guitars and vocals providing accompaniment.   This is a change from what people would perceive as “the norm” but prog is full of examples and we have taken our influence from them, drums change how we feel about a song, Tom Sawyer by Rush has a great end to the solo section, which changes as the drums change, this is the approach we wanted to take here.  The song moves into a far more complex short guitar section, which is very much in the style of Dream Theater where they pull out these crazy sections that seem disjointed in isolation, but actually contribute hugely to the direction of the next passage, they act as a bridge but are also intricate in their own right.

The lyrics are drawn from the life of Ragnar Lothbrok, who was a Viking hero, most people will know him from the TV series, Vikings and we all love that show.  There are a couple of lyrics which have a nod to the show, we felt it was very important to get that through to the audience.  Our drummer, Oz, is very much into this part of history and his knowledge was invaluable here, as the song started to take a feel we felt that this theme fit perfectly and you can almost track the progress of Ragnar’s life throughout the song.

On the whole, we took a very different approach to writing Ragnarsson than our other songs and it’s given us a great platform to build from, the end product has turned out exactly as we hoped and our influences shine through.  We hope that people love listening to it as much as we enjoyed writing and recording it.


Like this story? Share it!

Subscribe to our mailout