RAM - Death
Metal Blade
Heavy Metal
10 songs (48:37)
Release year: 2012
Metal Blade
Reviewed by Bar

Three years after taking the metal world by surprise with their unexpectedly excellent second album, Swedish head bangers RAM have returned in 2012 with their succinctly titled follow-up Death. Prior to the success of their previous album, Lightbringer, RAM had been a band with no more than a smattering of dedicated followers, so this release marks an interesting juncture in the history of their musical output. For the first time in their career, they find themselves on a label like Metal Blade, having to work on a collection of songs with the knowledge that the final result will be heard by a huge audience of Metal heads all around the world. It's undoubetedly a big change from the way they've worked over the previous decade. To their credit, they have delivered a very good album, but it’s impossible to ignore the feeling that the weight of expectation might have burdened them ever so slightly.

Death leads off with its title track, a brief but highly atmospheric instrumental piece that is not at all what I had expected to hear on a RAM album. It immediately calls to mind the grandeur of classic Pink Floyd, with highly effect-laden strums of guitar permeating throughout, and grim but beautiful synthesiser loops that sound like pure 70s space rock. It’s a really great way to open the album, and it got my hopes up that I would be listening to a RAM album that exists far outside of their comfort zone. As the album progresses, though, it becomes clear that the opener is the biggest departure on the disc. As a matter of fact, while the rest of the songs are uniformly solid, stylistically they’re more cut-and-dry than Lightbringer was, and are lacking just a tad with regards to the sense of originality that featured so prominently there.

That’s not to say the album is boring, because RAM still have a keen understanding of the importance of variety, it’s just that now that variety takes place within a more derivative, retro-styled framework. This is true to the extent that even Oscar Carlquist’s singing sounds somewhat more generic. The big exception is Hypnos which is an effective blend of classic Heavy Metal and modern rock influences. Although the streak of originality was one of the biggest strengths of their last album, thankfully RAM still have all the necessary chops to impress. This is an ardently professional recording, with tight, skilled instrumentation. Even when the song writing is less than original, (Defiant, for example, sounds far too much like Iron Maiden), RAM have a way of making it work. What can I say? They’re a stylish band. In terms of production, the sound of the album is a significant improvement over anything they’ve released in the past. It’s crunchy and modern in all the right ways, and every instrument gets the adequate room it needs to breath.

I suppose it will take one or two more releases from these Swedes before we truly know if they have another classic in them, or if Lightbringer was the sort of gem that they will never again be able to replicate. For now, we have Death and to be honest, while it may not change any lives, it’s still a very good piece of Metal that I’m happy to recommend.

Killing Songs :
...Comes from the Mouth Beyond, I Am the End, Release Me, Under the Scythe, Hypnos
Bar quoted 80 / 100
Other albums by RAM that we have reviewed:
RAM - Svbversvm reviewed by Andy and quoted 89 / 100
RAM - Lightbringer reviewed by Bar and quoted 90 / 100
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