Ram – Rod
Album Review By Adam McCann
Label : Metalblade Records
Year : 2017
Two years have passed since Ram released their previous studio album ‘Svbersvm’ which took the template laid down on their debut ‘Forced Entry’ and expanded it making Ram one of the hottest bands from Sweden with that classic 80’s heavy metal sound. Hell, you can go as far as to say that if they were released 30 years ago, then Ram would be huge. Taking the best bits of Judas Priest, Mercyful Fate, King Diamond and Wolf, Ram bow before the altar of giants as faithful acolytes and they do this bidding well. However, Ram are not stuck perpetually in 1988, there are elements of more their more modern peers with nods towards Portrait and Enforcer and Striker.
‘Rod’ is the latest release by RAM and is very much like a soccer game, it is an album of two halves. The first half of the album is dedicated to singular songs with classic metal overtones, from the galloping Maiden-esque beat of ‘Gulag’ to the rousing ‘Declaration of Independence’ and ‘On Wings of No Return’. But, there is one slight catch, just as with the other Ram releases, the production is relatively odd, it is muddy and has a cheap feel to it and this initially detracts from the album, but given some time and a few plays, it actually becomes quite endearing to listen to and you can’t imagine it any other way.
The second half of the album is the centre piece, it is what ‘Rod’ was made for and just like most concepts, the story is completely bizarre. It is a concept revolving around a half human/cyborg hybrid name ‘Rod’, which enters a temple to find the ‘black flame’ and upon meeting Death is implored to take his scythe and continue his work. Strange? No?
Take up your bag of dice and roll initiative, the entire ‘Rod’ concept seems to fit a homage to Judas Priest, as if the entire band has been eating Priest records and are fuelled by nothing more. ‘The Cease to Be’ would appeal to fans of early Priest, it has the spaced out melodic feel ripping into some of the crunch that is seen during ‘Here Come the Tears’, ‘Dreamer Deceiver’ and ‘Beyond the Realms of Death’. However, Ram crank up the gaskets for the powerful ‘Incinerating Storms’, a song which could easily shadow ‘The Sentinel’, ‘Demonizer’ or anything from ‘Painkiller’, whilst ‘Ashes’ although relatively pointless in the grand scheme of things, sounds like a guide track from the ‘Ram It Down’ era.
As an album ‘Rod’ can take a little getting used to, but once it does, it is a beast. It get the attention or adoration that some of the bigger releases get this year, but ‘Rod’ could give them a run for their money.
Rating : 78/100
MHF Magazine/Adam McCann