Released: 2012, Metal Blade Records
Sweden’s RAM can lay claim to being one of the first to ride the current wave of revivalist traditional metal, as their 2005 debut, FORCED ENTRY caused quite a stir in metal circles. At the time, it wasn’t quite yet a trend to play ‘80s-inspired metal directly inspired by Judas Priest, the NWOBHM, and various American bands (i.e. the non-glam, non-thrash bands). Now of course, you’ve got all kinds of bands doing this, some particularly well (Widow!!!). Back to RAM. Their 2009 sophomore release, LIGHTBRINGER lacked much of the passion and magic of its predecessor and was ultimately considered a disappointment. Here in 2012, there’s far more competition going after your traditional metal dollar, but RAM is back to tempt you with their third effort, simply called DEATH.
DEATH kicks off the atmospheric intro title track before really kicking into gear with “…Comes from the Mouth Beyond”. It’s a kicking melodic metal song that, while entertaining, isn’t near as memorable as it probably should be, given its status as the first real song on the album. Fortunately future songs like the Judas Priest-rolling “I Am the End” and the anthemic “Defiant” afford the band much good will, showing that they can write a damn good metal tune when they want to. It’s notable that Judas Priest is the biggest touchstone in RAM’s sound, although to their credit they never descend into direct rip off territory. Oscar Carlquist is no Rob Halford though (who is?), and his vocals can occasionally get out of hand or too hyper-sounding (some of the highest notes sound strained), but he generally keeps it listenable.
The band’s individual identity, and their song writing strength, really comes out in their fast, throat-grabbing metal songs – look no further than “Under the Scythe” and “Flame to the Tyrants”, the two best and most unforgettable songs on the album. These tracks fare far better than the band’s attempts at moody, almost doomy metal like “Hypnos” which goes no where. Stick to the fast stuff guys!
Look, there’s a lot of competition in this particular genre and RAM lost a lot of ground their last time out. However, DEATH is a very strong album. If the band previously lost you, or you’re just into good old traditional=-sounding heavy metal, RAM is worth checking out.