Ram – Rod Review

Band: Ram
Album: Rod
Label: Metal Blade
Genre: Heavy Metal, baby
Country: Sweden
Release Date: 3 November, 2017

Traditional metal masters Ram return with an all-new, sonic assault for your precious ears. Ram has been around for a few years now and have consistently released quality albums. There’s not a bum in their catalogue so far, so how does the newest measure up?

Pretty good, I’d say.

We get an opening salvo of four magnificent tracks, each one bringing the metal, never flinching, never backing down. This is followed by their own sort of Abbey Road moment, a six-part concept story that plays through all of Side Two (if you’re listening on vinyl). It’s here where Ram stretch their sound a bit, adding some more atmospherics, a dabbling of keyboards (don’t worry, The Final Countdown this isn’t), giving the songs a Queensryche vibe, circa the mid-80’s. The guitars riff, the vocals shriek, the bass thumps, and the drums pound as Ram delivers yet another amazing record.

Let’s look at some the songs a little closer:

Opener “Declaration of Independence” is a scorcher. It’s majestic and powerful and epic all at once. Ram simply excels at this kind of music and here they nail it perfectly once again. The thing is, it almost feels effortless even though you know it wasn’t. This one just blasts in with swaggering authority, the riffs grinding, the rhythm section bent over and gutting forward, and then we get a switch up and those magnificent vocals come flying in to give it all a classic, grand sweep. This opener is so good it almost ruins the rest of the record.

“A Throne at Midnight” is a rocker, straight up heavy and blistering. If your head doesn’t bob to this, you’re not a metal fan. You can feel the Riot in this one, seething at the seams, with the metallic gleam of Defenders of the Faith frosting its edges. The vocals are so Halford and so perfect. Man, this one simply demands respect, for the Old Gods and the New. It’s a real cruiser, with some added samples to give it extra spice.

So, what about that suite of songs, the final six that round out the album? It’s called “Ramrod the Destroyer” and is broken into six parts, with opener “Anno Infinitus” serving as an atmospheric, instrumental piece, setting the mood for what is to come. “Ignitor” is next, and it’s all double bass, Priest circa Stained Class era in style, a rumbling roller. It goes fast, slows down to show some authority, and speeds right back up again. “The Cease to Be” has a dash of Queen in its opening guitars, before smoothly settling into more of a Hair Metal solo and then that voice soars and you could swear this is Halford singing alternative lyrics to Beyond the Realms of Death. The crunch follows and off you go. “Voices of Death” offers some narrative, carrying the story forward, and consists of no music really whatsoever. “Incinerating Storms” pretty much lives up to its name. It comes in and blows the joint apart. I mean, pure metal. This one is just the kind of song that delivers on all levels. “Ashes” is the final song of the sixer, and it’s a pretty gorgeous layering of heavenly guitars that sort of melts into a fiery, cybernetic finish, reminiscent of Blood Red Skies by Priest. This kind of ending allows the listener to drift a bit before being reminded that you just got your ass scorched by some quality heavy metal.

Ram deliver on all fronts, bringing red-hot metal, melodic tenderness, and god-like vocals. The songs all pack a punch and there’s not a booger in the bunch. You’ve got a lot of Judas Priest and 80’s metal running through every song, peppered with a hefty dose of pure swagger. But they’re not derivative in the least little bit. They take from the past, bring it into the future, and add their own twist to it. Definitely recommended if you love traditional metal, and definitely recommended if you love Heavy Metal at all. This one is a winner.

Rating: 8/10

1. Declaration of Independence
2. On Wings of No Return
3. Gulag
4. A Throne at Midnight
5. Ramrod the Destroyer, Pt. 1: Anno Infinitus
6. Ramrod the Destroyer, Pt. 2: Ignitor
7. Ramrod the Destroyer, Pt. 3: The Cease to Be
8. Ramrod the Destroyer, Pt. 4: Voices of Death
9. Ramrod the Destroyer, Pt. 5: Incinerating Storms
10. Ramrod the Destroyer, Pt. 6: Ashes

Total Playing Time: 44:55

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