Ram – Rod 01Back into the depths of traditional, olde-school, cheesy metal we delve, my friends, and what do we encounter but more Swedish goodness in the form of Ram, and their latest album, Rod. The band haven’t let the fact that their logo is perennially in the running for Worst in All of Metal slow them down: Rod is their fifth album over the last fifteen years, making these guys almost as old as the music they love to play: Ram are pure NWOBHM, fervently worshiping at the altar of Judas Priest and staying trve to their values throughout the years. Rod brings a new twist to their shtick, but will it be enough to blow the roof off your basement suite?

The twist I speak of is this: part of Rod is a concept album — well, concept songs because it isn’t the whole album. The final six songs on this ten-track slab are the story of “Ramrod the Destroyer.” I’ll look at that in a moment, but what about the first four songs? For the most part, straight-up 80s metal, some fast, some mid-tempo, some galloping, some shredding. “Declaration of Independence” launches from the start line with furious riffing that would fit on a lesser version of Painkiller. Oscar Carlquist belts out the lyrics like singers of yore: while he doesn’t exactly sound like Rob Halford, it’s clear that is his idol, especially when singing in high-pitched screams. Solid and professional, if unspectacular.

“On Wings of No Return” flies along in similar fashion, as does “A Throne at Midnight,” both songs above average bangers carried by double kick drums, dual axework, and Carlquist snarling throughout. Those songs are good, but the best song on Rod, and in fact one of my favorites of the year now, is the galloper “Gulag.” For the most part, Ram display their Judas Priest fascination, but on “Gulag” Iron Maiden comes to the fore, with the chugging gallop and guitar harmonies. It’s got everything: catchy verses, even catchier choruses, dual lead breaks, triple guitar harmonies, even a key change. I keep coming back to that song, and will for quite a while.

Ram – Rod 02

This brings us to the six-part epic “Ramrod the Destroyer.” There’s still some great stuff in here: “Ignitor” and “Incinerating Storms” haul ass, and the climactic instrumental finale “Ashes” is epic yet short. Weaknesses show themselves in the goofy narratives, which feature layers of vocal effects and harmonizers to create some sort of evil dude (maybe Death) who I think winds up giving Ramrod his scythe, to bring death to life and life to death. Is it too cheesy? Damn close, but it’s not as bad as, oh, say Judas Priest’s “Loch Ness,” and it’s not enough to take away from just how much fun the record as a whole is. The production helps as well, aggressive and bereft of effects (aside from the narrative), letting the strong musicianship shine through. This is one tight group of musicians.

While previous releases have been average and/or inconsistent, with Rod, Ram accomplish what they set out to do: create a metal album free of the pretensions we often see today. This is just pure, fun metal played with authentic fervor. The guitar solos (not to mention tones) are excellent, vocals kick ass, and the rhythm section is tighter than a tight thing — Ram have no weaknesses in that regard. There are appropriately cheesy moments throughout, but nothing that made me groan and move on to next week’s album. If you’re into the old NWOBHM, dig into Rod. And if you’re not, well, give “Gulag” a spin via the stream and I dare you to not enjoy it!

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Metal Blade
Websites: ramheavymetal.bandcamp.com | ram-metal.com | facebook.com/ramheavymetal
Releases Worldwide: November 3rd, 2017

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  • This concludes homo-erotic Day at AMG.

    • HeavyMetalHamster

      The Dick jokes wrote themselves today….

      • Septic

        Wait… I thought Dicks were banned around here!?

        • HeavyMetalHamster

          I’ve been successful in my subversion of the mighty No Dick mandate.
          All praise Hammy.

    • Huck N’ Roll

      We need one more for a Review Threesome.

      • HeavyMetalHamster

        No review for the new Pink Cream 69 to round out the trifecta?

    • Eli Valcik

      This day has been full of literal and figurative penetration.

    • sir_c

      When I saw ram, rod and Judas Priest being mentioned in one sentence, I instantly knew where this would be going

  • HeavyMetalHamster

    Ram Rod is a great follow up to the Pink Mass review.

    • They had to go back to back. Too amusing not to.

  • madhare

    This is exactly why I come to AMG. Serious semi-academic intellectual and cultured discussion. Or just lame-ass dick jokes.

    • AMG: A blog for all seasons.

      • madhare

        A blog for all… rams? shafts? …damn, can’t make it work.

        Hence not just lame-ass but lame-dick jokes. Need some blue pills? (Is this what the Matrix was all about, daddy?)

        • Don’t call me daddy.

          • madhare

            Don’t call me just daddy. It’s Dr Sugar Daddy to you.

          • The last thing we need here are more doctors (sugar flavored or otherwise).

    • Malhorne

      I laughed at the end of your comment.
      Otherwise sum it up pretty well!

    • The Angry Metal Guy subtitle at the top should read:

      Angry Metal Guy: Nothing But Dick Jokes

  • Don’t be a ram-rod or we’ll ban you!

    • André Snyde Lopes

      The best thing about the policy is that everyone’s turned into dick about it.

  • Belgian Tom’s Hat Trick

    I’m digging some of these traditional metal bands: Portrait, In Solitude, Enforcer, and RAM. These seem to be the four I’ve allowed myself to delve into so far (RAM being my least favorite of these four). I’m afraid I’ll OD on the trad-metal worshipping bands if I don’t put some kind of limit to the number I listen to. However, if any of youse recommend others, I’d be delighted to check others out. Nice review, Huck.

    • Huck N’ Roll

      Thanks. Next week it’s New Zealand proto-thrash courtesy Stalker.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      May I recommend The Oath? They only released one album but it sounds like a female fronted Angel Witch.

  • Cherd

    Masterful synchronicity of reviews today. I can hear the AMG staff giggling all the way in Minnesota.

  • Eli Valcik

    Wait. Who’s Ramming who with their Rod?

    • sir_c

      I said Johnny B Goode to me, cos hell bent for leather today. Before the dawn hellraider is going to ram it down into your turbo lover until he be screaming for vengeance. That touch of evil gave me a sore electric eye.

      • Eli Valcik

        Dude, Electric Eye is my jam.

        • ElectricEye

          Electric Eye is my handle and my jam

  • Cherd
  • Thatguy

    Yeah, yeah, dick jokes aside, the album art and the clenched fists in the band photo told me all I needed to know about this.

    It’s music-by-numbers.

    • Anti-Ramrodist!

      • Thatguy

        There is only one ramrod that counts and I can’t talk about it without being a dick.

    • Huck N’ Roll

      Boo! “Gulag” is a great by-the-numbers song.

      • Thatguy

        I know my opinion on this is predictable, but I haven’t whined about this kind of music for some weeks having been – like everyone else – caught up in the great dick joke affair.

  • Kill The King

    Jammed this at work last night. So damn gooooood.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Not enough dick 2/5

  • dblbass

    If such solid praise in the review…. why only a 3.5 rating? I’m gonna check it…. but the kick ass review just doesn’t say “I’m giving you a 3.5” .